Monday, September 21, 2015

College Football Notes - Week 3

Oh boy.  Well I'm an Ole Miss fan, so you can guess as to what I'm going to spend most of my time talking about.  I was also pretty busy this weekend, so I didn't have a chance to watch  many of the games except for the late ones, which of course was highlighted by Ole Miss versus Bama.  However, I did keep up with the scores and I'm going to try and watch some more later.  I'll update accordingly.

1. Ole Miss.  Ole Miss started their SEC play off with a bang. History and just about everything else was against Ole Miss as they entered Bryant-Denny stadium.  I don't know how many stats I heard, but there were a bunch demonstrating how dominant Bama was at home, against Ole Miss and in revenge games.  If you weren't paying attention, you'd have thought Ole Miss had lost the game prior to playing it.  But if you were paying attention, you would have noticed the same things I noticed and posted last week.  Ole Miss matched up really well with Bama and Bama was still lacking a quarterback.  So despite all of the hype, Ole Miss went in and won.

The main questions I had before Ole Miss started:

1. How is Chad Kelly going to handle the pressure?
2. Can Ole Miss stop the run?
3. Will Coach Freeze out think himself?
4. Will Bama keep up pressure on the QB?

Chad Kelly handled the pressure surprisingly well. He struggled at the opening with a lot of batted down passes and it took him some time to adjust to having to make faster throws.  But he didn't snap.  He kept at it and looked surprisingly calm.  The only moment he let his emotions get the best of him, Hugh Freeze jumped all over him. It wasn't clear what happened, but I'm pretty sure he decided to throw a risky ball and go for the first down instead of a safe pass to help setup the field goal like Freeze had wanted and called. It reminded me very much of Bo Wallace and his final interception against LSU last year except this time Freeze didn't let it go. Good for him. To me Kelly has proved himself as a true player. In that type of hostile environment and to be able to rush for the TD, get rid of the ball as he was getting sacked and to throw the ball behind the line of scrimmage after faking the run proves to me he's a very capable and dangerous player.

I'm not sure how you define stopping the run against Bama.  Bama rushed for 215 yards on 42 attempts.  Is that a stop? Probably not, but they slowed them down.  That was enough.

Coach did a great job and if anything out coached Saban.  He handled Kelly masterfully and he made some really tough decisions. I didn't agree with the going for two and I thought we could probably have ran to the outside more often, but other than that he did great.

Bama pressured Kelly a lot, but after the rushing touchdown I think they begin to really grow concerned and let up.  They committed to covering the receivers with the safeties and personally I think this was a mistake.  I'm glad they did it though.

Looking forward Ole Miss has a very good shot at winning out all the way to Starkville.  Starkville is always a 50/50 game.  The top 3 opponents at this point are: LSU, Texas A&M and MSU.  You never know what's going to happen between injuries and weather, so I will comment on the next game, Vanderbilt.

I predict Ole Miss will jump to a big lead early on, 28 points and then put the back ups in.  I don't see Vanderbilt scoring more than 14 points and I see Ole Miss scoring at will and getting the score up to at least 50.

2. Alabama. Alabama surprised me with their decision to start with Cooper Bateman. To be honest, I wasn't really thrilled.  I was less thrilled after watching him make a bunch of passes and moving the ball down the field.  He did throw an interception and then that was it, Bama takes him out.  I think this was a mistake.  To me Cooper was the better passer and he was the better option.  Coker did well enough, but when they had to rely on his arm it didn't work so well.  To me using Coker limits your offense to a running offense.  There was the new development of Coker running a few times.  This was great and I would work to develop that aspect of the offense.  But I don't think he's a consistent passer and you're going to have to rely on Derrick Henry to get you your touchdowns. Alabama plays University of Louisiana Monroe which will obviously be an easier game.  However, don't doubt for a moment that they're not a bad team.  Bama will win, but I think the score will be surprisingly close for most people.

3. Auburn. It was not a good week for the state of Alabama. It's been said many times before and yet it doesn't seem to be said enough, Auburn has serious QB problems.  I'm not sure who the backup is, but they must be really bad if you continue to struggle with Johnson and refuse to switch. Watching Leonard Fournette run through Auburn's defense like a hot knife through butter reminded me something about Auburn.  Their defense sucks.  Oh yeah, Muschamp.  That's not really working out so well. I think their main problem is their size.  Watching their players try and stop Fournette looked like jr. high kids trying to tackle NFL players.  This does not bode well for the Iron Bowl or really the rest of the season. It especially doesn't bode well for their next game against Mississippi State.

4. LSU. The new darling of the SEC and the media, it's like everyone suddenly realized how great Leonard Fournette is at running the ball.  They also seemed to have forgot last week when they played MSU and MSU stopped them the second half.  This game seemed lopsided because it was but it wasn't lopsided because LSU is that awesome.  They're good, but stoppable. Just commit to stopping the run and pass across the middle.  LSU has a strange away game against Syracuse.  They should win and we'll see Fournette and the defense put on a clinic.  This will raise their stock and more people will forget they're one dimensional.

5. Mississippi State. State played Northwestern State and took out some of their frustrations on the small Louisiana school.  Offensively they looked good and defensively they put a lot of pressure on Northwestern State. They are going to be a challenge for any team, especially Ole Miss. I continue to be impressed by their backup QB, Fitzgerald and I'm dreading facing him next year.  Mississippi State has to travel to Auburn and I think they're going to like the results.  Their defense should destroy Auburn and their offense should put up lots of points.

6. Vandy.  They won! I hope they enjoyed it because there may not be many more of those on the schedule.  They are coming to Ole Miss and it should be interesting.  Will Ole Miss have a let down and look past them?  Will it even matter?  I'm guessing Ole Miss will use it as a celebratory tune up.

I did catch part of the TCU game and their offense is terrifyingly fast.  Boykin is fast and their running back was like watching Mighty Mouse. One of the things I noticed was how the offensive line and really the entire offense spreads out the defense when they decide to run.  Everyone blocks and the field suddenly looks like a pinball machine with a man to man block everywhere.  This gives the speedy back lots of space.  Combined with his quickness side to side and this is a recipe for a touchdown every other time.  It's really ingenious and I wonder how a defense will ever be able to account for it.  

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