Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Best of SEC Tuesday: Auburn and Alabama

Who would have believed that the University of South Florida would come into the plains and hand the Auburn Tigers their first defeat of the season? I know USF is a trendy upset pick and a talented team, but to come into SEC land and pick of what was largely assumed to be one of the top shelf teams this year at their place stretches credibility -- or does it?

The Tigers Get Tamed

So what in the world do Auburn bloggers have to say about Saturday's pain on the plains? Let's start with Mark over at The Auburner:

After the second week of the season, Auburn has been forced to eat a helping of humble pie while other SEC teams have been loading up on cupcakes. It’s not time to panic at this point, there’s plenty of time for Tuberville to hand out their just deserts.

Oh man. I’m sending that to Reader’s Digest.
That's a surprisingly mellow assessment. Will Collier at From the Bleachers was frustrated by the lack of Auburn offense and the turnovers, but not the play of the defense. Jerry Hinnen at Joe Cribbs Car Wash sees an even grimmer picture:
Auburn is not going to challenge LSU in the SEC West, not going to extend that juicy "Over the past X seasons, Auburn has the Xth-bst record in the nation" statistic. Auburn is going to have to scrape and claw and belley-crawl with a knife jammed in its teeth for every single inch of field position it can get, all just to reach 8-4.
Jerry has a less favorable view of Brandon Cox, and feels like the sacks he took in 2006 scarred him for life. But if that's true, Kentucky's Woodson aught to be emotionally crippled, having taken even more sacks than Cox. Jerry also points out that bringing out the chopping block for Tuberville might be premature after all the 2006 love he got. Sounds right to me. Patience, Tiger fans.

Jay Coulter at Track Em Tigers has a bit of a Monday hangover. He thinks that MSU will not be a cakewalk. I disagree. MSU is currently 94th in total defense and was in the high 80's last year. No, Auburn will not blast them like LSU did, but this blogger thinks Auburn will handle the Bulldogs without difficulty.

Jay is also disappointed with the crowd on Saturday, mainly because of poor attendance. But he does note that the USF fans were, in his opinion, less than sartorially splendid. At least he didn't use the dreaded "jort" word. Jay also agrees with Mark at The Auburner that Cox should not be benched.

Oh, Alabam

In what figured to be a pretty tough test for Alabama, an improved Vanderbilt team fell short of pulling the upset. Alabama's defense proved its mettle against a fairly powerful Vandy offense, and an injured Chris Nickson was unable to perform and was replaced by Adams for most of the second half. Earl Bennett, who had some 223 receiving yards last week, wound up with only 4 receptions for 52 yards.

Alabama bloggers are somewhat pleased by the victory, but not without serious qualification. The Capstone Report says special teams looked good, but officiating looked bad, and interestingly enough, says most of the bad calls went against the home team. In another post, he engages a little schadenfreude at the expense of Auburn fans.

Newspaper Hack is not happy, says that the game was ugly, and notes poor Alabama performance in the red zone. Memphis Tider also has a little fun at Auburn's expense, and says that Alabama's defense is "BIG TIME underrated."

Outside the Sidelines at Roll 'Bama Roll has some nice things to say about the running game and O-line, but spares little praise for John Parker Wilson, the quarterback. OTS also gets hate mail, some of it pretty funny.

The Tide Druid blogs Ivan Maisel's article in ESPN, and wonders if Tide fans are being conditioned by Satan Saban to treat a 14-point victory over Vanderbilt as a good thing. Seriously, though, Vanderbilt deserves more credit than that.

So what do Vandy fans have to say about the game? Phillipvu94 at Save the Shield has extremely harsh words for the officiating, expounding on Capstone Report's comments:
I’d be remiss not to say something about the officiating. I’m ready to declare that this notion that complaining about the refs equates to blaming the loss on the refs is absolute bullshit. When the refs systematically, whether consciously or not, do everything reasonable in their power to favor the big-money programs over the small-money programs, we should complain! SEC refs are just corrupt to the core. I really ask myself why I bother attending sporting events with all the integrity of professional wrestling.
Ouch. He follows up with more here.

Diezba at Star & Stripe takes a look at all the commentary around VandyLand, the good, the bad, and the extremely ugly:
In his eighteenth post on VM, "VandyDadd" tells us that he's done with everything Vanderbilt, including "thug and stupid 'student-athletes.'" Wow. Needless to say, that gets some people going elsewhere in that thread.
Guess the Commodores didn't take this one lightly.

Seamus O'Toole was impressed by Alabmama's O-line and thinks that 'Bama might just be better than advertised. He manages to find the silver lining in the cloud of the home loss, and that's often tough to do for a team with some of its highest expectations ever. His co-blogger Bobby O'Shea had a rather more stern take on the Vandy performance, calling the game "a complete disappointment." Tough crowd in Nashville these days.


Philip, the Equal Opportunity Cynic said...

Well, to be fair I also said that Alabama whupped us regardless. But this whole pattern -- not just last Saturday, but year after year -- has me pretty upset. It ought to make the winning team upset too, because it cheapens the sport as a whole.

At any rate, thanks for the link.

BestofSEC said...

I agree with you, Philip. Poor officiating is the one thing all fans can commiserate on, even when our team benefits. It hurts the integrity of the sport, and can wreck it altogether.

With the scrutiny officials will be getting after the NBA scandal, I truly hope we see more transparency in officiating soon.

Joe Blow said...

"I disagree. MSU is currently 94th in total defense and was in the high 80's last year."

Yes, but their defense matches up well against Auburn. Holmes and Brown are both NFL-caliber players. You can bet that Croom is going to line them up on the same side as Auburn's frosh linemen. They were able to pressure Flynn the entire LSU game. Cox doesn't have the supporting cast that Flynn does, and has been making piss-poor decisions even when NOT under pressure. Groves et al will be too much for Hennig. Auburn will win, but it won't be a blowout.

BestofSEC said...

Well, I agree it probably won't be a blowout, but I still think it will be comfortable. 10 to 21 points.