Thursday, October 4, 2007

Quick Update

I've been out of town this week and I don't have my computer with me. I forgot to post the games of the week before I left so I'll give you the scores. Come back Sunday for the full story.

Thursday: Kentucky-24 Cocks-28
Sat: UGA-31 Tenn-21
Sat: FL-31 LSU-30

Season record to date: 3-1

Wins: UGA Vs. AL, USC Vs. UGA, FL Vs. Tenn
Loss: AU Vs. FL

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Thoughts of the Week


By Ernest Faulkner


After taking two-week sabbatical from the blog, I have come back after some things that I thought would happen in college football did and others completely took me by surprise. I will try not to sound like “I told you so” in this column, because let’s face it, I didn’t. However, here we go.

1. A top 10 shuffle was coming.
I never did imagine it on this scale, but after struggling to come up with a deserving top-5 from week to week, it is easy to conclude that this was one of the weakest top 10’s in recent history. Of the former top 10 teams, Oklahoma was simply following its roll of the high scoring bully of the Big 12 until someone came along, Colorado and hit them in the mouth. Like we said from the beginning of the season, Florida’s defense would be a weak point this season because of lack of experience, not talent. Ole Miss exposed it, Auburn capitalized on it. I was surprised by West Virginia’s loss to South Florida simply because the Bulls failed to capitalize on big mistakes at Auburn, forcing a win in overtime despite five turnovers by the Tigers, and beating a down UNC team. South Florida is for real, however, and head coach Jim Leavitt has got the media-dubbed Holy Triumvirate of Rodriguez, Slaton and White figured out. Texas struggled early and often with a new offensive line and the pressure put on QB Colt McCoy, so it was easy to figure someone would catch them. Rutgers was living on its darling status from last year. If you lose to an ACC team this season, a No. 10 you are not. Looking at what is left of the top 10, get ready for more jumbling.

LSU will probably win the SEC, but it has to make it through the rest of its schedule. After a lackluster performance against Tulane, it will only take a hungry team and a lethargic Les Miles bunch to knock the Tigers out of the top spot. USC had its first “We will tease you with the possibility of losing and then win” game of the season and may have more, but is still the most talented team in the Pac-10 and will return to a BCS bowl. Ohio State is overrated and untested. Between Wisconsin, Michigan State, Penn State and an angry Michigan, someone will knock the Buckeyes out. If anyone has played more uninspired than Wisconsin in the last three weeks, I haven’t seen them. Michigan State is one of the hottest teams in the Big Ten right now, but the Badgers should never let a home game get that close. Somebody is going to slap them while they are sleeping on the field. South Florida and Boston College have earned the right to be in the top 10 more than anybody. They are smart bets to win their conferences, but still have a long way to go to achieve that goal. Kentucky has one against down teams. Give a good secondary and I could beat Kentucky. Music City Bowl, welcome back the Wildcats.

2. Georgia is now where Arkansas was in 2006.
The Dogs have improved a lot over last season and the win at Alabama was signature for this group of players. The reason I compare them to the Hogs of last season is obviously not because Georgia hasn’t realized the forward pass is legal like Houston Nutt – look at Matthew Stafford, they have— but because this is an underestimated team that has found ways to win. UGA still has Tennessee, Florida, Auburn and a Kentucky team will test the young secondary by throwing for 200 passes in a game, so they haven’t won the conference yet, but they might take the East if Mark Richt’s bunch doesn’t make too many mistakes.

3. Alabama, welcome back to Earth.
After hearing The Birmingham News’ Kevin Scarbinsky, all of ESPN and Alabama radio announcer proclaim Bama back, eerily similar to 2005, the Tide is back where we knew they would be, with two consecutive losses. The offense is new and creative, but there is still no experience on defense. No matter how Saban coaches them up, good offenses will exploit the group. Georgia and Florida State burned them all day long with the pass and that is what the rest of the schedule will do as well. Alabama will make one of the SEC’s second tier bowls or even Outback, Cotton or Chik-Fil-a this season, but unlike Scarbinsky’s inflated prognostication of 8-0 before the LSU game, Tennessee and the Bayou Bengal’s are ready to pounce.

4. Auburn, a much improved but long road.
After booing students, no respect from the media and much angst on the Plains, Tommy Tuberville and the Tigers proved they can still win the big game. Auburn did a complete 180 this weekend and brought out the team many expected to see this season. The infusion of freshman talent on the offensive line and the improved play of Brandon Cox keyed the win in Gainesville. However, the Tigers still have many pitfalls ahead of them. Vanderbilt, laugh if you will, is still a trap game. So is Ole Miss, laugh all you want. If the Rebels almost beat Florida, they can beat Auburn. Road trips to Arkansas, LSU and Georgia await and could all be losses, not to mention the Iron Bowl. Auburn is on the right track and could win the remaining games if they played like they did on Saturday. What remains to be seen is if they will.

Auburn vs Florida 2007

Lou Holtz for Senate!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Week 5 Top five Poll


SEC Tailgate Top Five
1. LSU(2) 4-0 3600
1. USC(2) 3-0 3600
3. Oklahoma 4-0 2400
4. Florida 4-0 1400
5. West VA 4-0 600


Other Polls:

AP Top 25
1. USC (43) 3-0 1,601
2. LSU (22) 4-0 1,580
3. Oklahoma 4-0 1,456
4. Florida 4-0 1,417
5. West Virginia 4-0 1,388


USA Today Poll
1. USC (44) 3-0 1,481
2. LSU (8) 4-0 1,438
3. Florida (4) 4-0 1,347
4. Oklahoma (4) 4-0 1,336
5. West Virginia 4-0 1,260

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Final Review of UGA Vs. Alabama


Quote of the week from Deep South Sports Blog:
Overheard in the North endzone of Bryant-Denny after Georgia's Brandon Coutu missed the tie-breaking field goal at the end of regulation:
"It's like the breath of The Bear blew down from Heaven to push it wide!"

UGA defeated Alabama by the score of 26-23. To put the final touches on the game, here is what our experts had to say back in August about the outcome of the game.

UGA will win
-The Godfather

Mike Gundy Lectures the Oklahoma Media

Reminds me of General Patton!

Monday, September 24, 2007

ESPN: Expect to be attacked on the road




"In the SEC, you'd better keep your helmet on after a big win on the road--and if your uniform ends up smelling like liquor, hey, it should wash out."-Pat Forde, ESPN.com


From ESPN.com:


TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- When it was over, 89 plastic stadium cups lay upon the grass in the southeast corner of Bryant-Denny Stadium. A few dozen crimson-and-white pompoms, too. And two airplane bottles of booze -- one Jim Beam, one Seagram's.


That's the debris hurled down from the Alabama student section upon the celebrating pile of Georgia Bulldogs late Saturday night after the visitors had the unmitigated gall to beat the Crimson Tide 26-23 in overtime.


It was an atrocious display of fan petulance, but not an unprecedented one. I've seen firsthand a smaller-scale bombardment between the hedges from Georgia fans after a bitter loss to Auburn in 2005.


In the SEC, you'd better keep your helmet on after a big win on the road -- and if your uniform ends up smelling like liquor, hey, it should wash out.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

SEC Game of the Week: AU Vs. FL

It is hard to believe how times have changed from last year. FL Vs. AU was one of the top games of 2006 and Auburn was responsible for handing the Gators their only loss. However, this season these two teams are headed in different directions. FL has picked up where the left off last year and Auburn has been fighting to complete passes and keep the chains moving.

Auburn's offense has still not come together which spells trouble in the Swamp on Saturday night. I will keep this short and sweet, Auburn only has one hope of winning this game. The defense must force four or five turnovers and the Auburn offense must have none. Plus, Auburn must be able to run the ball.

In sum, Auburn must be able to not turn the ball over and run the ball. The Tigers have not proven they can do either this season. Brandon Cox normally plays good in big games, but he can't do it alone. It will be interesting to see how three true freshman do starting on the offensive line. While the freshman on the offensive line will help the offensive move the ball, I don't think they can be expected to play great against a tough defense that will confuse them.

Auburn-10 Gators-31
SEC Game of the Week Record: 1-0

ESPN: just as bad as ever

I'll never forget this as long as I live. The game is as good as ever, Alabama is up by three in OT and UGA is about to get the ball. Then all of a sudden, Mike Patrick utters one of the most unforgettable lines in SEC history.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

LIVE FROM T-TOWN


***LIVE***Look in the comments for updates all day long as Z-Money brings you live coverage from T-Town***LIVE***
Final Score:
UGA-26 Bammer-23!
DING DONG THE WITCH IS DEAD!!!!!!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

SEC Game of the Week: UGA Vs. Bama


SEC Game of the Week

Georgia Vs. Alabama

In my opinion, this is not only the best game of the week but also the most intriguing match up. The state of Alabama has been reeking of the smell of moth balls this week as Tide faithful have gone to the closets in order to squeeze into their 1992 national championship t-shirts after defeating Arkansas. The Tide look ready to claim their 135th national championship if they can defeat the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday night.

On the other hand, Georgia is still reeling a little since their loss to South Carolina. However, don’t be surprised if UGA comes out fresh and ready to win. Georgia is in a position where they must win the remainder of their games if they are to have a shot at going to Atlanta and coach Richt has been a great road game coach through the years.

Last week Alabama gave up over three hundred yards on the ground to Arkansas. It isn’t a mystery that Arkansas has a great backfield, but there is no excuse for giving up so many yards to such a one dimensional team. UGA has a chance to take advantage of the Alabama defense because the Dawgs have the ability to run a balanced attack. Additionally, the UGA defense is much tougher than Arkansas and will give the Tide fits all night long.

I look for UGA to play shut down defense and hold the Tide offense in check. UGA should be able to wear down the Tide defense and pull away late in the game. Yes, I’m going against the powers that be at ESPN and predict a Dawg victory in T-Town and no I’m not drinking the Bamer Kool-Aid being served in the ESPN studios. If you are hanging out in Vegas this weekend the line on the game is Alabama -3. It would be wise to pick the Dawgs and then collect your money before you go home. Oh, one more thing, you will not see this written often by this author...GO DAWGS!!

UGA 28 Alabama 21

Georgia vs. Alabama Preview

I love the fact Spencer picks Arkansas to win the UGA/Bama game in this preview.

Nick Saban "Im not going to be the Alabama coach."

Bungle in the Jungle


SEC Tailgate has added a new feature to the blog called "Bungle in the Jungle" which will be devoted to think pieces covering Auburn's 2007 football season. You will not find mindless criticisms of players or coaches nor will you find support for a firethecoaches.com website.
The first two stories are from other sites, but you can expect some original material soon. You can find this new section on the right side of the blog.
My favorite line comes from Joe Cribbs Car Wash:
"If you were not a student and booed Brandon Cox at the game Saturday, I would like to kindly ask you to donate all of your Auburn gear to the Salvation Army, burn your tickets, and never set foot inside Jordan-Hare Stadium again. To have Cox--a guy who for all his struggles has shown time and again he'd give up a kidney to help this program and has been responsible for win after win after win the past two seasons, whether you'd like to pretend said wins fell from the sky or not--booed that loudly in our stadium sickens, disgusts, and above all shames me as an Auburn fan."
Photo: AL.com

Thursday News 09/20/07


Who Wears the Pants in Gainsville?
If you want to play for the Florida Gators you must first talk with the first lady of the football program. That’s right, “no player is allowed to commit to the Gators before first meeting Gators coach Urban Meyer's wife, Shelley.”
ESPN Favors Bamer to Roll Past UGA?
ESPN has already jumped on the Alabama bandwagon. According to Ivan Maisel's current bowl projections, he predicts Alabama will play in the Cotton Bowl and Georgia will play in the Chick-fil-A peach bowl. In other words, Alabama is the third best team in the conference while UGA is the fifth best team. Then Alabama defensive end Gilberry told reporters he "needed to find out Stafford's address to know where to send flowers after Saturday's game" as a sympathy gift. Finally, to add insult to injury ESPN-Scout predicted the final score to be 27 to 21 in Alabama's favor. Maybe the ESPN crew will be wearing Alabama hats during gameday on Saturday. Why does the media act like UGA is rolling into the Swamp to play the 1996 Florida team? The MGM Grand in Las Vegas has Alabama favored by 3 points, which is not a lot for an undefeated hyped up SEC team playing at home. SEC Tailgate will have a breakdown of this game on Friday.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Week 4 SEC Tailgate Top Five Shocker!


The week four poll is full of surprises. For the first time ever USC is no longer the number one rated team. Plus, the Gators catch Oklahoma and a new team makes their first appearance in the top five.
SEC Tailgate Top Five
1. LSU(3) 3-0 3800
2. USC(1) 2-0 3400
3. Oklahoma 3-0 2000
3. Florida 3-0 2000
5. Penn State 3-0 400
Other Polls:
AP Top 25
1. USC (46) 2-0 1,605
2. LSU (19) 3-0 1,577
3. Florida 3-0 1,437
4. Oklahoma 3-0 1,434
5. West Virginia 3-0 1,388
USA Today Poll
1. USC (44) 2-0 1,478
2. LSU (8) 3-0 1,438
3. Florida (7) 3-0 1,368
4. Oklahoma (1) 3-0 1,308
5. West Virginia 3-0 1,244

Tuesday News and notes


Mark Richt Closes UGA Practice for the First Time Ever!

Alabama coach Nick Saban used to work for Bill Belichick, the sneakiest spy in sports since Moe Berg.
Not only that, last year while coaching the NFL's Miami Dolphins, Saban's team was accused of stealing signals — against the New England Patriots, no less.

They are taking precautions around Georgia. The Bulldogs, on a totally unrelated note (wink, wink), have closed practice all week for the first time in the Mark Richt era.


Coach Orgeron a Jackleg?

According to deepsouthsports.net this letter appeared in the Oxford Eagle.

This summer, our family was at a little league baseball game at Batesville, and Coach Orgeron was there. Many children stood in line to get an autograph from this arrogant man. Unfortunately, my five year old was one of many who waited.

He waited until the game was over, so as not to bother him while the game was going on. He stood there waiting with his Florida Gator team hat (the five year old that is). When his turn came, he was very rudely turned away by Orgeron. He told my son he was not going to sign his hat because it was a Florida hat.

My five year old had no idea why he was denied by this person, who must have been a great man because everyone was standing in line to get his signature. The look on my child's face when he turned around to walk away, hanging his head, would have made any real man sad.

My heart hurt so bad for my little man. My mother always told me, "Give a man a little power and his true character will appear". Coach Orgeron's true character was seen that day, to be sure. Coach Orgeron is the little man, and that day my son walked away the bigger one.

A mother whose heart hurt that day,

Sally Summerman
Photo Credit: Lamar Echols


Thursday, September 13, 2007

Week 3 SEC Tailgate Top Five...USC Still Number 1


SEC Tailgate Top Five

1. USC(3) 1-0 3800
2. LSU(1) 2-0 3400
3. Oklahoma 2-0 2000
4. Florida 2-0 800
5. West Virgina 2-0 600


Poll Details

Other polls:

AP Top 25
1. USC (40) 1-0 1,594
2. LSU (25) 2-0 1,582
3. Oklahoma 2-0 1,418
4. West Virginia 2-0 1,408
5. Florida 2-0 1,370

USA Today Poll
1. USC (42) 1-0 1,476
2. LSU (11) 2-0 1,437
3. Florida (7) 2-0 1,353
4. West Virginia 2-0 1,269
5. Oklahoma 2-0 1,264
Photo: Reuben Canales/WireImage.com

A look back at week 2


By: The Godfather
After much thought, a look back on week two of the college football season.

1. Football is not all that important: This week marks the sixth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on our country. It also marked the week the U.S. commander in Iraq gave the nation an update of the situation on the ground. I was ashamed and embarrassed at the questions and comments directed toward our General who has dedicated his life to his country. Furthermore, we continue to see an increasing focus on the 2008 Presidential election that will be very important to American history. With so many important things going on in our country it is very difficult for me to focus on sports.

More importantly, all of these events help to remind me football is not all that important in the big scheme of things. If people would put half as much energy into supporting our troops or being involved in government as they did with football we would live in a better country.
2. Auburn’s Offense is terrible: I can’t believe that a team like Auburn can be so bad on offense. Auburn recruits well and even has Mr. Alabama football playing QB who also happens to be a fifth year senior. I’m not exactly sure what is missing, but I hope a solution is found sooner rather than later. It is one thing to lose a football game, but it is something different to look the way Auburn has the first two weeks on the offensive side of the ball.

3. Rutgers is a joke: I know Rutgers is coming off a successful football season, but they are still a joke. I knew something was up when I was watching a reply of the Louisville game from last year when I noticed the student section chanting “we will, we will, rock you” late in the second half. Apparently they don’t have much tradition and this is the best they can come up with. When I played freshman football I thought the chant was lame and now it is the official chant of Rutgers football. However, I must admit this chant is better than what was coming out of the Rutgers student section last week. Once they were comfortably ahead of Navy they started chanting “F--- you, Navy. F--- you, Navy” and they were even taunting some of the Navy players.

The losers who were saying such things are ignorant to say the least. These guys out there playing for Navy have much bigger lives than college football. Most of them will end up serving five year stints in the military supporting a nation who is fighting a global war on terrorism. They are heros! Most of the assholes making these chants can only dream of being admitted to a school like the Naval Academy, much less dedicating their lives to a cause greater than themselves. I personally will pull against Rutgers in every game they play no matter who they are playing for the rest of the season and maybe even longer.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Thoughts from Week 2


By Ernest Faulkner


Three Thoughts from Week 2

1. Auburn and UGA, back to the drawing board.

It was a sad weekend for at least these two SEC powers and it is tough to where to begin to fix them. So we will start with the easier one to fix, Georgia. Fret not Dog fans, this was bound to happen sooner than later. You can’t go through season after season in the same conference as Steve Spurrier and not expect to lose one to him. I don’t care if he is at South Carolina, Vanderbilt or if the SEC brings back Georgia Tech or Suwannee, if you play him every year, he is going to get some time. That being said, the most troubling thing from UGA this weekend was its offensive decisions. When you have to call four trick plays in a game to try to get up on a team that scored 16 points the entire game, you aren’t going to win. South Carolina had a formidable defense that knew where to attack and confuse the young offensive line, quarterback Matthew Stafford and, more importantly, offensive coordinator Mike Bobo. Georgia has a tune-up game with Western Carolina to regain its confidence before the big showdown in T-town with Alabama in two weeks. One can only hope that Bobo and the Dogs will have a way to handle the Tide’s young defense.

With Auburn, oh where to begin. Coaches are talking about reshuffling the receivers to allow more reps for Chris Slaughter, Montez Billings and Tim Hawthorne. That move plus a stronger role in the running game from Mario Fannin should help Auburn, but most of Saturday’s problems lay under center. Brandon Cox has experience, has won tight games and should be the most reliable impact player on the Tigers’ roster. For whatever reason, but my pick is the 36 times Cox was sacked last season, the quarterback is apt to making mistakes and bad reads. With a total of five turnovers, two fumbles by redshirt freshman Fannin and three total by Cox, Auburn shouldn’t have even made it to overtime. South Florida did notch another big win in its program’s young history, but with four missed field goals of its own, the Bulls were lucky to get this one. Auburn has Mississippi State to retune on this week and Cox could make a comeback, but every team on the Tigers’ schedule now has two games to study on how to rattle the quarterback. Brandon Cox is one of the most capable quarterbacks in the SEC and is dangerous when he is on his game, however that is not now. It maybe wise to let Neil Caudle or Kodi Burns see the field some this week, just in case they may need to see it later this season.

2. Notre Dame and Michigan, who really cares?
As an answer to the afore mentioned question, two alumni organizations, northern sportswriters and maybe Ohio State. Otherwise, this is just a rebound game for two disillusioned teams. Notre Dame has to find a new leader for an offense which was the Fighting Irish’s only identity for the past two seasons. The Irish were famously bad on defense as in evidenced in match-ups with USC last season and LSU in the Sugar Bowl. What helped Norte Dame when was quarterback Brady Quinn, decent receivers and running back Darius Walker. With all of that gone, it is not unreasonable to expect the Irish to falter this year. Plus, as I have heard mentioned by other writers, what would be the 2005 class of recruits for Notre Dame— which would be juniors or redshirt sophomores at this point— had to wait until February for head coach Charlie Weis to get on campus after winning the Super Bowl with the New England Patriots. What month is Signing Day? You guessed it. That means there is a huge talent gap for Notre Dame this season and it will take at least a year to work out.

Michigan is suffering from no real defense, as discussed in the past, and an offense that only survived because of its defensive comrades. Quarterback Chad Henne will be out for the Notre Dame game, further causing Vegas oddsmakers want to pull their hair out over this match-up, but it really doesn’t matter in this pillow fight. Some years, the gameplan just doesn’t work and for Michigan this is the year. Why do I feel both teams season highlights will come from this game?

3. Georgia Tech, whoop-dee frickin’-do
So you beat a Norte Dame team with no defense and no quarterback. Then you managed to hang 69 on a FCS team, formerly called Division I-AA. These are not the signs of a marquee season, but for the Jackets, it might as well be Mardi Gras. Georgia Tech may actually have a stable offense this season, with a solid running back in Tashard Choice, a capable quarterback in Taylor Bennett and finally a cohesive offensive gameplan, but there is nothing to be impressed about yet. The Jackets actually have a test in visiting Boston College this week and if they can manage a win, it bodes well for Tech’s season. However, these aren’t the cripples you have kicking around for the past two weeks. Boston College beat defending ACC champ Wake Forest by 10 and then rocked NC State. This maybe the Jackets only real test this side of Virginia Tech, and the Hokies aren’t that good. The ACC is weak enough that Tech will probably return to Jacksonville and win the conference this time, but it is a team that will continue to be unchallenged really until the bowl game, that is unless the Eagles put up a fight this week.

Ernest Faulkner is a professional writer who is known as being the first sports writer to be an "auteur." Mr. Faulkner operates in secrecy among the shadows of the journalism business hoping to avoid their lunacy. During his time in "the biz" he has worked for some of the top publications in the world. You can contact him at ernest@sectailgate.org

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Five Thoughts from the Weekend

By Ernest Faulkner

Don’t believe the hype!
Michigan’s rise to No. 5 in the nation was shown Saturday to be nothing more than a media feeding frenzy, showing its deference to the Big Ten. A loss to Appalachian State was a shocker, but if you look closely, the warning signs for the Wolverines’ downfall were there all along. Michigan’s ranking was based on two things: 1, Its 11-2 record last season and 2. Returning starters Chad Henne, Mike Hart and Mario Manningham.

Here is where there are flaws: Michigan’s success last season was built on its defense, not its offense. The Wolverines held opponents to an average of 12.09 points a game going into the match-up with Ohio State in 2006. The best offenses Michigan faced in that stretch were Notre Dame and Wisconsin in consecutive weeks. The Irish managed 21 points, while the Badgers only scored 13. Michigan itself averaged 29.2 points a game last season, but the average is inflated by blowouts against teams with poor defenses like Notre Dame, Central Michigan, Michigan State, Ball State and Indiana. Those are the only teams the Wolverines scored 30 points or more against prior to the 42-39 loss to Ohio State. The losses on Lamar Woodley and Alan Branch were greater than imagined and three skill players do not a national title team make. The Wolverines may have a shot at the Big Ten, but the thoughts of a national title or Lloyd Carr remaining another season are gone with the wind.

Tennessee has growing up to do
A new group of receivers, a quarterback with a broken pinkie and a new secondary may have been a little too much uncertainty to pit up against a top 15 team with a grudge. The Vols offense still looks underpowered and a defense that gives up 45 points after having months to prepare is no where close to competing in the SEC or anywhere else. Make no mistake, California was preparing for this game since September 2006, but if you are supposed to contend of the SEC East. You have to put up a better defensive performance than that. Tennessee has bounced back before after a glaring blowout and after the impending shelling Southern Miss will face this weekend in Knoxville, the Vols travel to Gainesville for Florida on Sept. 15. That will be the measuring stick to apply to Tennessee.

Louisville’s performance was more impressive than Oklahoma
While both teams hung over 70 points on their opening weekend opponents, Louisville remains more impressive in my mind. Yes, the Cardinals brought back Brian Brohm and most of their playmakers from last season and they were only playing Murray State, but to have a new head coach in Steve Kragthorpe, a new philosophy and still manage 73 points shows Louisville hasn’t lost a step since the departure of Bobby Petrino. However, after only one easy game, Louisville will still travel to West Virginia, South Florida and host Rutgers in its last three weeks, so there are many mountains left to climb.
At this point, Bob Stoops is as entrenched at Oklahoma as it gets. He has a pipeline of talent running to Norman and it really doesn’t matter if they have new quarterbacks or running backs. The Sooners have nothing to prove against North Texas except that Bobby still likes to hang 79 points in there to ensure he can get a bump in the polls. Hang 79 on Miami this week, and then I will be impressed.

The top 10 is filled with pretenders
Of the AP’s current top 10 teams, only Wisconsin and California defeated reasonable opponents last weekend. LSU gets a free ride for opening with conference foe Mississippi State and no one in the top 10 would take on USC early, but this is another example of why polls this early are nothing but hype. West Virginia’s schedule sets up easy with Marshall, Maryland and East Carolina before a real test with South Florida on Sept. 28. Florida hasn’t proven anything by beating Western Kentucky and has Troy this week. The first big test is against a questionable Tennessee team next week and after railing Ole Miss on Sept. 22, they get Auburn at home— who has plenty of questions to answer. Wisconsin’s schedule looks easier all the time as the Big Ten appears to be weak this season. Oklahoma will be tested by Miami, who it is not as impressive anymore and Texas has a major test in TCU. When did you think you would ever say that? Louisville should coast past Kentucky and not be tested until N.C. State on Sept. 29. Virginia Tech has much more to prove than LSU this weekend and California is on easy street until Sept. 29 at Oregon.
It is tough to rank a top 10 this early in the season, which is why it shouldn’t happen until October, when you have to actually prove something.

Auburn and Georgia still have a lot to prove
These teams are on the opposite ends of the momentum spectrum, but they both have a lot left to show. Georgia moved up to 11 this week after beating Oklahoma State 35-10. The Dogs should probably be higher then that considering the teams above them, but they aren’t because while the Cowboys are a major conference opponent, they aren’t that good. This is a team that went 7-6 last season and made it a winner against a transitioning Alabama. They used to be known as the team where only a running back was good in the Les Miles days and now only has a receiver. Last time I checked, Georgia at its worst could still top teams with only one decent receiver. Stafford performed well and looked like a college starter, but he wasn’t really tested. This week hosting South Carolina should show how much Stafford has progressed.
Auburn has a tested quarterback in Brandon Cox, but doesn’t have much else to show. Kansas State might be a hair above Ok. State simply because they have won the Big 12 before, but they are by no means a power right now and they gave Auburn fits. The South Florida game this week looks scarier all the time and if Auburn’s offensive line woes, or offensive woes period, don’t straighten out a lot this week, it will be a long season.
Ernest Faulkner is a professional writer who is known as being the first sports writer to be an "auteur." Mr. Faulkner operates in secrecy among the shadows of the journalism business hoping to avoid their lunacy. During his time in "the biz" he has worked for some of the top publications in the world. You can contact him at ernest@sectailgate.org.

Week 2 SEC Tailgate Top Five Poll

SEC Tailgate Top Five:

1. USC(3) 1-0: 3,800
2. LSU(1) 1-0: 3,400
3. Oklahoma: 1-0: 1,800
4. Louisville: 1-0 1,000
5. Wisconsin: 1-0 800

Poll Details

WHO IS THE MOST OVERRATED IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL? CLICK HERE.

Other Polls:

AP Top 25
1. USC (59) 1-0 1,619
2. LSU (5) 1-0 1,542
3. West Virginia (1) 1-0 1,449
4. Florida 1-0 1,346
5. Oklahoma 1-0 1,275
5. Wisconsin 1-0 1,275

USA Today Poll
1. USC (49) 1-0 1,486
2. LSU (4) 1-0 1,417
3. Florida (7) 1-0 1,341
4. West Virginia 1-0 1,275
5. Wisconsin 1-0 1,183

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Week 1 College Pick'em Top Five Standings...Moving Day

It was moving day in college pick'em as the season finally got started. After all the off season trash talk this is who made the top five. Doba turned in a very impressive perfect first week.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Week One Truths from Lamar’s Preseason Predictions

Tennessee: "The Vols lost several key members of their secondary…Does this team have a solid defense? SPLIT DECISION. I believe the defense will get better as time goes by, but the defensive weakness will be tested in the first game of the season against Cal. If Tennessee can execute a decent pass rush and player good pass coverage in the secondary in the first game they will have answered all my doubts about their football team. If not, they may be in trouble."
"If the Vols can show improvement on the defensive side of the ball and pick up where they left off on offense they should win the eastern division. However, they are not a dominate football team and could easily lose to both UGA and USC which would cost them a trip to the dome."

Auburn: "The offensive line may struggle early, but they still shouldn’t be as bad as last season. By the time the first big game roles around (FL Sept. 29) this team should be ready to rock and roll."

LSU: "The offense is the reason why I’m not totality sold on this team. I’m sure they will hang 50 plus on Mississippi State in week one, but I’m not sold on their week in and week out capabilities."

Miss. State: "There is no doubt Miss. State will once again have the worst offense in the SEC."

Random Thoughts About Week 1


1. Thank GOD the Preseason is over! College football is completely different then any other sport. There are no preseason games and there are no playoffs. Each team must go out and play twelve games as though each is a playoff game. To me there is nothing worse than the preseason when everyone is giving out nothing but opinions, I’m glad the playing football part is actual here.

2. Michigan ohhh Michigan: According to ESPN, when Michigan lost to Appalachian State this weekend it became the biggest upset in college football history. I’m very happy to report that the contributors of this blog were not fooled by the preseason hype given to Michigan. In fact, you can see that not one of our voters placed Michigan on their top five ballot. What could us regular guys have seen about this team that the people who work for ESPN and Sports Illustrated couldn’t? Maybe Michigan really wasn’t the fifth best team in the country from the start and it really wasn’t that big of an upset after all. Maybe teams should not be ranked based on the name of their University and should be judged by what kind of football team they have. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Michigan jump up to third in the AP poll and Notre Dame leap into the top ten after their first week performances.
3. Texas is not really number FOUR! Texas barely got by Arkansas State by a final score of 21-13. I'll be curious to see how the voters will respond to such a lousy performance.

4. Just put the damn ball in the end zone! Auburn struggled mightily on offense Saturday night against Kansas State, but Auburn’s defense was good enough to keep them in the game long enough to win. Time will tell whether Kansas State’s defense is as great as Auburn made them look, but there are still serious questions about the Tigers offense. I ran across another blogger who shares the same concerns as I do, so I thought I let him give you the run down of what happened this past weekend in Auburn.

From the Bleachers Blog:

As I feared, the Auburn offense hasn't progressed much since the Cotton Bowl. As in most of 2006, the offensive line wasn't able to open holes for the running backs with eight or nine defenders in the tackle box, and the the receivers couldn't break out of man coverage fast enough to bail out a constantly under assault Brandon Cox. Cox, who once again had to man up and take a severe beating, didn't help himself any by often holding the ball too long and throwing two terrible interceptions.
It's well worth giving credit to Al Borges for changing his attack for the game-winning drive, and to Cox and his teammates for executing that drive so well, but c'mon, guys, why did you wait 56 minutes to change things up? It was painfully obvious by the second quarter that Auburn just wasn't getting anything going on offense. The game plan was as vanilla as Dairy Queen and as predictable as an old soap opera. As I've said many times in the past, when I can predict the next play, there's a problem.
What's worse, some of Borges' decisions just didn't make any sense. I love Carl Stewart. He's the best pure fullback Auburn has had since Fred Beasley, but he's, er, a fullback. For all his many gifts, Stewart just doesn't have the speed to carry the ball on a toss sweep. Put him out there to kill a linebacker or cornerback and break loose a ball carrier, but don't ask him to turn the corner. That's a waste of your resources.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

SEC Preview: The Forgotten Team Stays on Top


AU
I know I’m going against the grain when I say Auburn should win the conference this season. But after looking at the facts, I don’t see how so many experts could disagree with my assessment of the season. This Auburn football team has lost three SEC games in the past three seasons (for a three year mark of 21-3). That is one of the most remarkable accomplishments I can think of in such a difficult conference. While many people do not want to give this team respect, the numbers don’t lie. College Football News ranked teams based on the past three years and Auburn finished ranked third, behind only USC and Texas. If you look at the 2007 AP or Coaches poll you will find both USC and Texas in the top five, but you won’t find Auburn until you get down to number eighteen. Amazing!

Like all the other contenders Auburn is very talented. According to Rivals.com, the last recruiting class was ranked seventh in the nation and the three year average is ten. This is by far the deepest most talented team Auburn has ever fielded since I closely started following football back in 1992. For the first time since I can remember Auburn fields not only talented starters but also talented backups for each position. This team is not deep in experience, but very deep in pure talent.

Offense: The offensive side of the ball is the reason why this is the forgotten team. Most folks want to discount this team because there will be four new starters on the offensive line. However, if you look at the facts I don’t see how anyone could make this claim. First, last season Auburn fielded one of the worst offensive lines in recent school history and still managed to win eleven games. Auburn ranked second to last in the entire SEC (behind only Kentucky) in giving up sacks. The new offensive line will feature young players, including at least two freshman starters, but they are so much more talented than what has been there in the past there can really be no comparison.

Another knock on this team is Brandon Cox and the inability to score points a year ago. Many people must not be aware that Cox was injured very early in the season and never recovered. Because Tuberville didn’t want to throw a true freshman into the fire, the coaches stuck with Cox. As a result, Al Borges put the brakes on the offense and turned to more of a power running which really didn’t really suit a team with such a poor offensive line. The truth is I would take Brandon Cox going into his senior year before I’d take any other recent Auburn QB at this point in his career.

Auburn will again be loaded at running back where up to four different guys have the ability to carry the load. While not the most experienced group, the wide receivers are loaded with talent and should step up and make some big plays this season.

Defense: This should be the best defense Auburn has fielded since I’ve been seriously following football since 1992. The group will be much more talented and experienced then they were a year ago. Plus, Will Muschamp will be in his second season and it is already showing as the players actually understand his defense and know their assignments.

Conclusion: The offensive line may struggle early, but they still shouldn’t be as bad as last season. By the time the first big game roles around (FL Sept. 29) this team should be ready to rock and roll. However, one must keep in mind Auburn has one of the toughest schedules in the league. They must play on the road against FL, LSU, Arkansas, and UGA. Despite being ranked so low in the preseason, surely if Auburn can make another run like in 2004 this team would be rewarded with the BCS title game. If Auburn is not able to win every game, they should at least make a BCS game.

Lamar’s pick: I know it is crazy to pick any team to go undefeated through the SEC, but I just don’t see any other way the SEC West winner can end up. One loss may be too many to make it to Atlanta. Auburn makes another 2004 run at 12-0 and 8-0 in the SEC. This time Auburn better get a shot at USC in the title game.

Expert Predictions


The Godfather

SEC East

1. Tennessee 7-1
2. USC 6-2
3. UGA 5-3
4. Florida 4-4
5. Vandy 2-6
6. Kentucky 1-7

SEC West

1. Auburn 8-0
2. LSU 7-1
3. Alabama 4-4
4. Arkansas 3-5
5. Ole Miss 1-7
6. Miss State 0-8


Ernest Faulkner

SEC East

1. Tennessee 6-2
2. UGA 5-3
3. FL 4-4
4. USC 3-5
5. Kentucky 2-6
6. Vandy 2-6

SEC West

1. LSU 7-1
2. Auburn 6-2
3. Alabama 5-3
4. Arkansas 3-5
5. Ole Miss 2-6
6. Miss State 0-8

SI.com

SEC East

1. FL 7-1
2. Tennessee 6-2
3. UGA 4-4
4. USC 3-5
5. Kentucky 2-6
6. Vandy 2-6

SEC West

1. LSU 8-0
2. Arkansas 5-3
3. Auburn 5-3
4. Alabama 4-4
5. Ole Miss 2-6
6. Miss. State 0-8

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

SEC Preview, Part 11: LSU Expectations High as Les Miles Hat


LSU
There is no doubt that LSU has just as much talent as any team in college football. However, they have been saddled with such high expectations that even the New England Patriots would have a difficult time living up to the hype. To be fair, neither Les Miles nor the players asked to be ranked so highly or to be talked about all off season. The truth is this team will be very good, but they have TOO many questions to legitimately be ranked second in the country.

LSU has always done a great job of recruiting top talent to Baton Rouge even when the team has not been very good. Their Rivals.com three year average is eleven. Like the other contenders in the SEC, this team is loaded with talent.

Offense: The offense is the reason why I’m not totality sold on this team. I’m sure they will hang 50 plus on Mississippi State in week one, but I’m not sold on their week in and week out capabilities. My first issue with this team is at QB, where they must replace the first pick in the ENTIRE NFL draft. Sure, they may have lots of talent at QB, but how can anyone replace the first pick in the entire NFL draft? I would say it is a huge plus the new QB has been around for five years, but most of that advantage left with their offensive coordinator. All the players have been forced to learn a new offense that they were only introduced to a few months ago. Combine that with the fact LSU does not have a QB that has ever started an SEC game and there is cause for concern.

My second big question with this offense is the loss of Jimbo Fisher who many consider to be the best in the business. He is credited with forming the LSU offense that won the national championship and several SEC titles. Not only must the players learn this new system, but they must learn a totally different philosophy. The new OC loves to spread the field and throw the ball. LSU has had an offense that would line up and run over people. It will be an interesting transition.

Finally, this offense lost their offensive line coach. Not only must the new coach learn about the capabilities and weakness of his new players, but the new players must adjust to a totality new scheme of offense on top of adjusting to a new a new offensive line coach. This is much easier said than done and I would not be surprised to see some early missed blocking assignments.

There are also many things certain for this offense. The offensive line is very talented and will produce big holes for the running game. The WR is loaded with play makers that will score from every place on the field. This offense has the capabilities of being very good, but it may take some time to adjust.

Defense: Simply put, you will see no better defense in the nation. They will get pressure on the QB, stuff the run, and defend the pass well. I like this group a lot and I don’t see any weakness.

Lamar’s key to a championship

1. Does this team have a solid defense? YES. No doubt, no discussion, they have the very best.

2. Can this team run the football? YES. They have a very talented and experienced line that will block for very good running backs. This team should not have a problem racking up lots of yards on the ground.

3. Does this team have a proven QB? NO. Just because they have a QB who played well in the Peach Bowl does not mean they have a proven QB. Look at Matt Stafford last season, he was easily the worst QB in the SEC last year but he had a good Peach Bowl. One game does not translate into being a proven QB.

Conclusion: LSU’s defense could easily lead them to an undefeated season. But the biggest questions I have are on the offensive side of the ball. How will this offensive coordinator perform in close games deep in the heart of the SEC schedule? How will the new QB react to SEC game atmosphere? I think LSU has lots of talent and lots of questions.

Lamar’s pick: LSU will have an overall record of 11-1 and an SEC record of 7-1.
Photo Credit: http://www.lsu.edu/highlights/053/images/miles4.jpg

SEC Preview, Part 10: Tennessee Back on Top in 2007


UT
It has been a while since Tennessee has been considered the best team in the east. However, they have their work cut out from them because it will not be an easy road but in the end the Volunteers should make an appearance in the Georgia Dome come December. But keep in mind, it will be close and if they struggle either South Carolina or Georgia could easily take their spot. Tennessee does not have much room for error in what has to be the toughest division in all of football.

The Tennessee program has always recruited well as they did this past year signing the fourth best class in all of college football. According to rivals.com, they have a three year average of ten. However, keep in mind two out of the last three years they have signed the number three and number four classes in the nation.

Offense: David Cutcliffe has lead the Vols out of the SEC crapper and brought them to the top of the division. Look for QB Erik Ainge to have another stellar year after completing 67% of his passes a year ago. To keep the pressure off of Ainge will be a stock of running backs who are capable of going the distance each time they touch the fall. The biggest question mark facing the offense is the wide receiver corp which lost some key players. The Vols must have a big time receiver step up because opposing defenses will be stacking the line.

Defense: The Vols lost several key members of their secondary but they should be easily replaced. One name to watch for this fall is true freshman Eric Berry who is capable of playing any position on the field. The defensive line needs to improve after only recording 17 sacks last season.

Lamar’s key to a championship

1. Does this team have a solid defense? SPLIT DECISION. I believe the defense will get better as time goes by, but the defensive weakness will be tested in the first game of the season against Cal. If Tennessee can execute a decent pass rush and player good pass coverage in the secondary in the first game they will have answered all my doubts about their football team.

2. Can this team run the football? YES. Tennessee always has a tough running game and this season will be no different. They have several players who can start and make big plays.

3. Does this team have a proven QB? YES. Erik Ainge has proven he can play with the best of them after completing 67% of his passes last season. He should have another big year and lead Tennessee to Atlanta.

Conclusion: If the Vols can show improvement on the defensive side of the ball and pick up where they left off on offense they should win the eastern division. However, they are not a dominate football team and could easily lose to both UGA and USC which would cost them a trip to the dome.

Lamar’s pick: Tennessee will go 11-1 overall with a 7-1 record in the SEC. They will win the SEC Eastern Division championship. They will defeat FL, Ole Miss, USC, Arkansas, Vandy, and Kentucky. They will lose to UGA.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

SEC Preview, Part 9: Gamecocks to Atlanta?


USC

I’ve got two very important questions about South Carolina. First, is Uncle Rico’s long lost son Blake Mitchell? Second, will Steve Spurrier kill Blake Mitchell before he graduates? The answer to the first question is definitely yes. Blake was probably conceived during Uncle Rico’s big high school football playoff run in 1982. The answer to the second question is still up in the air, only time will tell.

South Carolina is currently on the rise more so than any other program in the SEC. Steve Superior has won titles where no one else could (Duke, UF) and Columbia will be no different. He has increased the talent level at South Carolina more than any coach in Cock history. Their three year national ranking, according to rivals.com is seventeen, which can be deceiving considering they had a top ten class this past season.

Offense: This unit will be much, much better than they were a year ago. Even if Steve has to kill Mitchell before the season is over he can easily be replaced by one of Superior’s top QB recruits. However, it will be in the Cocks’ best interest to keep him around since he has been in the Superior system for three years. The ground game will be very good and the passing game will be improved despite the loss of WR Rice to the NFL. Trust me, Steve will hit the play action pass off the successful running game and people will be talking BCS bowl.

Defense: The Cocks’ will again field a strong defense. The biggest difference this season is that Steve will not have to solely rely on the defense to win games. They will hold their own and put USC smack in the middle of the SEC East title race.

Lamar’s key to a championship:

1. Does this team have a solid defense? YES. While they won’t be the best in the SEC, they should be improved from last season. Plus, they won’t have to spend as much time on the field as they have in the past.

2. Can this team run the ball? YES. With the return of “Crack Head Boyd” they should be able to chew up chucks of yards. The offensive line should not have a problem run blocking as Steve balanced attacked will keep defenses on their heels.

3. Does this team have a proven QB? YES. if Steve doesn’t leave Blake Mitchell in a Columbia gutter one Friday night. Even if Blake is done away with there are other QB’s on the roster who have game experience.

Conclusion: This is the year South Carolina has been waiting for! The only thing that stands in their way is the pesky Tennessee Volunteers. But you never know, as Steve used to always say, “You can’t spell Citrus Bowl without UT.” If USC can get past UGA in the second game they will be on their way to a special season. If I were UGA I would be very concerned about playing these guys. I wouldn't be surprised if Steve has figured out a way to play offense without an offensive line or play defense with eleven defensive backs. Georgia is another team he has often taken cracks at calling their former coach "Golmer Goff." UGA is the only major eastern team he has yet to defeat and you better believe he has been planning for Willie's defense all summer.

Lamar’s Pick: USC will finish 10-2 overall and 6-2 in the conference. The Cock's will finish in second place in the east because they probably will not find a way to beat the Vols. They will defeat UGA, Mississippi State, Kentucky, Vandy, Arkansas, and Florida. They will lose to LSU and Tennessee.

Photo Credit: deepsouthsportsblog.com

Exclusive: Ernest Faulkner Previews SEC East

SEC East Preview

1. Tennessee 10-2 (6-2 SEC)

Year Two of David Cutcliff’s resurrection of the Volunteer offense will be more high-powered than 2006,where Tennessee was strong against California and Georgia, but struggled against teams like Arkansas and Penn State. Erik Ainge should be one the conference’s best offense performers this season and the Volunteer backfield has been rejuvenated in depth for the firsttime in several seasons. The receiver corps will benew and must develop quickly if Ainge is to guide theair game. An angry California looks to upend Tennesseein Berkley for the opener, and then the Vols face a Florida defense that has lost much of its bite two weeks later. Tennessee’s toughest match-ups will be against an improving Georgia on Oct. 6, Nick Saban and the Tide on Oct. 20 and The Visor and his Gamecocks a week later. Tennessee should be aware of the upset in this stretch.

2. Georgia 9-3 (5-3 SEC)

The Bulldogs finished strong in 2006, after stumbling against Kentucky and Vanderbilt, to beat Auburn,Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech. Georgia will be much improved this season, but there will still be question marks on both sides of the ball. The entire offensive line will be replaced under new line coach Stacey Searels and the front seven on defense looks to be inexperienced as well. Heralded quarterback Matthew Stafford threw twice as many interceptions than touchdowns last season with 13, but a rigorousoff-season training regimen of keg-lifting and spooning should move along the sophomore’s development. The backfield is stout again with an seemingly endless supply of backs and the receiver corps will be helped by the reemergence of Sean Bailey, but success on the field will hinge on the lines. Tennessee, Florida and Auburn will be difficult games, but Alabama and South Carolina could provide upsets if the Dogs get complacent.

3. Florida 8-4 (4-4 SEC)

The Gators had a lot of hype last season and earned their reputation by slapping Ohio State in the national title game. In 2007, the Gators still have the hype, but will have a tougher time earning it. Nine members of a tenacious defense are gone, taking away much of Florida’s bite from 2006. The offense is in pretty good shape, but quarterback Tim Tebow, who was brought in on designed plays last season, will have to run the whole show this year after the departure of four-year starter Chris Leak. Like 2005, this season will test Urban Meyer’s coaching ability and innovative nature as the Gators rebuild and their opponents get stronger. Games with Tennessee, Auburn, LSU and Georgia could break either way and an improved Florida State awaits its first win against Florida since 2003.

4. South Carolina 7-5 (3-5 SEC)

The Ole Ball Coach figures his team can make a run to the Georgia Dome come December. If the Gamecocks could find a reliable quarterback, he might be right. However, Blake Mitchell still looks to be the best option, but his off the field antics have cost South Carolina in the past. Last season, the signal caller lost his starting job after punching a bouncer only to regain it later in the season. This summer, pictures surfaced showing that Mitchell was a maniac, maniac ont he floor at a wedding and dancing like he ever danced before or should since. Just recently, Mitchell was suspended for the season opener with La.-Lafayettebecause he missed summer classes. That gives South Carolina one game with back-up Chris Smelley before heading to Athens next week to face UGA. The receiver corps will have question marks with the loss of SidneyRice, but the running game looks strong with CoryBoyd. South Carolina also faces one of the toughest schedules in the nation, not the time to have a shaky senior quarterback.

5. Kentucky 5-7 (2-6 SEC)

Last season, the Wildcats turned a corner last season with upsets over Georgia and Clemson, but don’t expectit to happen again this season. Kentucky will lean heavily on senior quarterback Andre Woodson and the schedule sets up easy to start, but consecutive games against South Carolina, LSU and Florida will bring Rich Brooks’ team back to Earth. A season finale trioat Vanderbilt, at Georgia and hosting Tennessee won’t help either.

6. Vanderbilt 5-7 (2-6 SEC)

The best SEC team not to go to a bowl last season won’t be able to catch a break this year either. The schedule sets up nice at the beginning of the season,with my predicted upset of Alabama coming in the second week. However when October hits, the Commodores will travel to Auburn, host Georgia and are at South Carolina. Vanderbilt closes the season with a Murder’s Row of Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee and defending ACC champ Wake Forest. If the ‘Dores can take the Wildcats, they have a shot at their first bowl berth in 25 years.

About the Author: Ernest Faulkner is a professional writer who is known as being the first sports writer to be an "auteur." Mr. Faulkner operates in secrecy among the shadows of the journalism business hoping to avoid their lunacy. During his time in "the biz" he has worked for some of the top publications in the world. You can contact him at ernest@sectailgate.org.

SEC Preview, Part 8: Can ‘Talladega Matt’ lead UGA to promised land?

UGA
Overview: Since the hiring of Mark Richt, UGA has been at the top of the eastern division. The secret to Richt's success has been a winning offense capable of getting the job done. Plus, a very good defense and solid recruiting have placed Georgia in the league of elite teams in the SEC. In fact, according to rivals.com, over the past three years UGA has an average national ranking of seven in recruiting. There is no doubt this team is loaded with talent.

Offense: For the most part, UGA must replace the entire offensive line. Despite great recruiting classes, the Dawgs are very thin along the line. As a result, they will rely on true freshman and junior college transfers to get the job done. It may take a few weeks to get things together, but eventually this should be a solid group of guys. However, an injury or two could seriously cripple any hopes of a good season.

QB Matthew Stafford is back for his second season in the SEC. He struggled last season after being thrown into the fire. This year Stafford must prove he is not just a paper blue chip player. He must go out and perform week in and week out in the best conference in college football. Stafford has the talent, but he still must find his game.
While he will be more experienced, he will have to deal with a new offensive line as they go through growing pains. He will not have the luxury of the experienced veteran line to protect him from opposing defenses that he had a year ago. To make matters worse, the offensive line coach left for UAB, so not only will the team be replacing the entire offensive line, but also will have to replace one of the top offensive line coaches in the country which will be no small feat.

To add to the transitions taking place on offense, Mark Richt has decided to hand over the reigns of offensive coordinator to Mike Bobo. While Bobo did handle play calling duties in a few games last year, he is an unproven play caller going into the season. It is always unsettling to have a new coordinator, but even worse to have one that has never called plays at any level other than high school. In the end, Bobo must replace one of the top offensive coordinators (Richt) in the SEC which will be no small task. My worst fears were confirmed when the AJC ran a story titled "Even Richt unsure about Bobo's offense."

Defense: The defense has been the strength of the team the past few years. However, this season the Dawgs will have to basically replace the entire defense. There is a ton of talent, but they will be tested early against OK State and USC. The defense should come together and again be one of the better units in the SEC. If not, defensive coordinator Willie may be looking for a new job come the end of the year.

Lamar’s Keys to a championship:
(1) Does this team have a solid defense? YES. While we really don’t know for sure, by the time UGA gets in the thick of the schedule they will be just as good as anyone on the defensive side of the ball

(2) Can this team run the ball? SPLIT DECISION. Running the ball will be the key to beating South Carolina which would put them in the SEC east race. However, with so many questions on offense, this remains a question mark.

(3) Does this team have a prove QB? NO. While Stafford has a huge upside he has not proven that he can play QB week in and week out in the SEC.

Conclusion: Despite severe losses on both side of the ball and some coaching changes on offense, the Dawgs should again be near the top of the east. With the amount of talent on this team they are capable of winning the division and the league any season. This is a testament to the job Mark Richt has done for the program. However, I do not believe UGA will make it to Atlanta this year because of the turmoil the offense is bound to face. The defense will be good, but with the coaching changes, an unproven offensive line, and an unproven QB this will not be the year of the Dawg. On the other hand, if the offense comes together early against South Carolina and Alabama, UGA fans can go ahead and start looking for SEC championship tickets and RV Parking spaces at the Georgia Dome.

Lamar’s Pick: UGA will finish 9-3 with a 5-3 mark in the SEC. They will finish third in the SEC East. Wins will come against Alabama, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Vandy, and Kentucky. UGA will be see losses against USC, FL, and AU.

UGA is my early pick to win the SEC in 2008.