Alabama (1-0 overall, 0-0 SEC) — With a scandal hanging over the program and two national titles potentially lost, the current Crimson Tide football team will try to focus on the work at hand and win a big road game at Texas A&M. The rebuilt offensive line was spotty in Bama’s debut against Virginia Tech. UA had an open date last week. Come Saturday, we’ll see just how much the big boys up front have improved since their opener.Georgia (1-1 overall, 1-0 SEC) — The Bulldogs’ defense is young and, as expected, it has been vulnerable early. But, oh, that offense. Recent history suggests that it takes a strong, strong defense to win the SEC. By year’s end, UGA’s defense should improve. But that offense is so versatile, we’re left to wonder who can slow the Dawgs down. If South Carolina couldn’t hold them to under 41 points, who else can slow them down? And remember, Georgia hung 28 points on Alabama’s BCS championship team in last year’s SEC title game. As long as UGA protects the football, they’ll score points on just about anybody.
LSU (2-0 overall, 0-0 SEC) — LSU’s defense is better than most pundits expected. More frightening for SEC squads? The play of quarterback Zach Mettenberger under new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron’s tutelage. The ex-Georgia, ex-juco QB gives the Tigers a true passing threat, something they’ve lacked in recent years. And they’ve been pretty darned good in recent years. How good might they be if Mettenberger continues to improve? National championship good.
The fact is that Georgia’s defense has put some of the premier players in college football on the field in the last few seasons, but hasn’t been able to field a premier defense. Now that Grantham is in his fourth season, he’s got a defensive squad full of players he recruited to play in his system. The time for excuses is now in the past.Missing assignments and losing contain are things that have to be expected to a certain degree from freshmen, but Georgia is seeing this kind of sloppy play from some of the few veteran players they have on the team, including the highly recruited Josh Harvey-Clemons, who in the game againstSouth Carolina, allowed a big run when he took a horrible angle on a tackle.
The big point of emphasis is going to have to fall on the defensive line, who were gashed for 226 rushing yards against South Carolina, and 197 yards to Clemson the week prior. With an average of 5.1 yards per rush being given up, and some teams that love to run the ball headed Georgia’s way on the schedule, huge corrections have to be made.
The line did see some improvement in the second half against the Gamecocks, as they snuffed out the Carolina running game on a goal line stand, and only allowed six points after halftime. Defensive ends Sterling Bailey and Ray Drew seem to be settling in quite well, but the interior positions on the line are constantly being stood up by opposing offensive linemen.
“He’s definitely found a niche as far as short-yardage, goal-line, four-minute offense, which is when you’re trying to end the game like we were doing,” coach Mark Richt said. “I think he would be first to go in there.”Richt said it’s not established yet if Douglas has moved ahead of J.J. Green behind Todd Gurley and Marshall as Georgia’s No. 3 tailback.
“We’ve got to continue to develop that depth if injuries do happen,” offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. “It’s a rough and tough league and we played two very good opponents the first two weeks and guys played a lot of snaps. Hopefully we’ll be healed up and be ready to go in a week and a half.”
Georgia Defensive Coordinator Todd Grantham says he liked what he saw from his defense this past week, and he feels confident that it’s a unit that’s learning from their mistakes and making adjustments to correct them; the stats aren’t necessarily reflective of this notion—South Carolina gained 226 yards on the ground (although a large chunk of that was on a 74-yard run by Mike Davis) and 454 yards of total offense—but it was, a much cleaner, better executed game by the Dawgs as it was fraught with less penalties (on both sides), better third and fourth down defense, and a lot more fight from the guys up front.There is still plenty of growing left to do and you have to hope the 30+ point games stop in the near future, but I’m encouraged enough by what I’ve seen from certain players to believe that the defense will only get better as more of it’s moving parts become better acquainted with what they’re supposed to do—let’s not forget that better than half of these guys only played in a reserve or backup role last year, and are still getting acclimated to their new identity in this defense.
SEC and National News
Baseball with Google Glass Blue. The future ballpark:
How long do you think Saban has studied film on Johnny Football and his merry Aggie men? My bet is the minute he put down the crystal ball trophy in Miami last January. If Saban has viewed Texas A&M’s defense this year, he knows the Aggies are second to last in the SEC in total defense and scoring defense. Agricultural & Mechanical even gave up 31 points to Rice. Rice!I can already see Bama running back T.J. Yeldon running roughshod through the Aggies’ porous defense.
Concerns over the Tide’s subpar offensive line performance against Virginia Tech will dissipate as the unit should benefit from two weeks of preparation and incessant yelling by Saban. If that doesn’t motivate you, nothing will.
The way SEC Banter sees it, Texas A&M’s only advantages are Manziel and the Texas heat. Oh, and the 1950s-era cheers from the Texas A&M “Yell Leaders,” a group of all-male cheerleaders.
If Alabama can win in Baton Rouge, the Swamp, and BCS title games, it can handle College Station. Johnny Football will do his thing for a while and keep it competitive, but Bama’s depth and Saban’s coaching should make this hyped-up Game of the Century a snooze-fest by the end of the third quarter.
Speaking of hype, the newspaper wants to generate a buzz about SEC Banter. I’m thinking an SEC Banter Cam that captures my every move is in the cards. Let me know if you’re interested in becoming a sponsor.
This block get you thrown out of an SEC game:
Yahoo! articles cause heat exhaustion?
Butch Jones says Mo Couch won't play on Saturday due to heat exhaustion he suffered on Tuesday.
I have to disagree about the d-line being the cause of the defensive woes. If anything, I feel the d-line has played the best out of any unit on the defense so far. They are getting push and penetration and have been getting pressure on the QB in the last 2 games. Just go look at the stats and look how many QB pressures they have. Now, the one thing they need to do is turn some of those pressures into sacks, but we need to keep in mind that they have faced 2 very mobile QBs the first 2 games in Boyd and Shaw who are great at escaping pressure and running.
In addition, in Grantham's 3-4, it is the linebackers' responsibility to shoot the gaps and pursue. The 3 down lineman are supposed to get push, create lanes by drawing the attention of the opposing o-lineman. The linebackers are supposed to play their assignments and shoot in the gaps to meet the ball carrier on running plays of if they are a blitzing LB on a pass play, they are supposed to shoot the gap, shed the defender, and do their best to either flush the QB or sack him.
Where the problem has been, have been linebackers hesitant to shoot the gaps and if the opposing QB has been flushed, the pursuit angles on that QB or failing to contain the QB or ball carrier. Defensive line has played well IMHO, but linebackers need to man up and the players behind the d-line need to take proper angles and wrap up and make tackles. I'm seeing way to manyball carriers getting tackled from behind.