Thursday, July 21, 2005

CFN's SEC Preview

I love the site, but I found this and this a little underwhelming. If you don't want to click through, here's a summary: everyone in the SEC is great! Georgia's as good as Auburn, who's as good as Florida, who's as good as Tennessee. I guess LSU is a little better since they are picked to win the SEC, but they probably got a 10-1 pick instead of a 9-2 pick because they have every other SEC contender at home. Way to go out on a limb. Me, I tend to be a little bit more negative. For instance:

1. I don't see Auburn replacing their backfield adequately. CFN sets up a straw man by saying that their offensive production will hardly "fall off the map," but the fact is that they are replacing three first round picks and they're replacing them with a sophomore, a guy who transferred because he was buried on the depth chart at South Carolina, and a guy who was judged by the Auburn coaches to be so inferior to Caddy and Brown that he changed positions. Yeah, no drop off there. Their defense should still be very good, but there are two major concerns:

a. They are going from one of the best defensive coordinators to a guy who was in charge of Minnesota's consistently underwhelming defenses, but coordinators don't matter, right Hugh Nall and Steve Ensminger?

b. They have to replace a shut-down corner who allowed them to do all sorts of things on defense. Again, replacing starters is one thing; replacing stars is something else.

I'm not saying that Auburn won't be a solid 7-4 or 8-3 team, but to write-off their losses as easily replaced is ignorant.

2. I loved this bit: "Southern Miss is one of the nation's most fearless mid-majors and won't be the slightest bit intimidated by playing at Bama." Mike Shula's two Bama teams have beaten Southern Miss by a combined 44-6. Over the past four years, the score is 92-28. Gosh, I'd be scared of playing Bama if I put up those numbers over the past four years against them.

3. Or how about this: "Fans of the non-automatic BCS conferences have this one circled. Arguably, this will be the biggest game ever for Boise State as a win would finally bring the respect it has so desperately wanted." Gee, you think after reading that that Boise State has never gotten a shot at a major SEC opponent. Did you know that Boise went 12-1 in 2002? And you know why you never heard about them? Possibly because of that 41-14 loss in the opener at Arkansas. They've been down this road before and the results were not pretty.

4. Tennessee should take UAB more seriously than Notre Dame in South Bend? I know it's cool to tout the mid-majors as being tricky opponents, just like touting an eclectic, unknown band was a great way in college to show off, but shouldn't Tennessee fans be a bit more worried about taking their suspect pass defense and average defensive braintrust on the road in November to play a successful NFL offensive coordinator who has nine returning starters on that side of the ball, almost all of whom were high school All-Americans? How can that possibly compare to facing the immortal Darrell Hackney at Neyland, stripped of his go-to target from last year?

And this statement just doesn't work: "The secondary finished last in the SEC last year, but there will be a big turnaround with the freshmen starters of last year now seasoned veterans. The cornerbacks will be outstanding with former safety Jason Allen a sure Thorpe Award candidate." Georgia went through the same issues in '03-'04. They had a green line in '03 and everyone assumed that the line would be much better in '04, but the fact was that they still had fairly young players on the line and one year of starting experience doesn't turn a player from average to very good.

5. Proving the rule that every new defensive regime must be described as "more aggressive," here's the description of Florida's new defense: "Attack, attack, attack. Co-defensive coordinators Greg Mattison and Charlie Strong are going to bring the noise from all angles in an aggressive scheme to better utilize the great overall team speed." One problem: Charlie Strong was in charge of the last two Florida defenses, which were presumably read-and-react, if this statement is to be believed. The better way to evaluate Florida's defense is not the bullshit "more aggressive" canard, but rather to point to the fact that the key to good defense is a dominant defensive line and they have 1) a bunch of blue chip recruits there who are starting to mature and 2) Greg Mattison, who is a very good defensive line coach.

6. How do you describe South Carolina's '04 defense as "generally strong"? They allowed 31 points to Ole Miss (Ole Miss? At home?), 43 to Tennessee, 32 to Arkansas, 48 to Florida, and 29 to Clemson. Not exactly a murderer's row of offenses there and they only return four starters. I guess Steve Spurrier's formidable defensive knowledge will save them. (In fairness, CFN does say that USC is going to have a rough year and finish 5-6.)


indilove said...

gd stuff.

Senator Blutarsky said...

My favorite thing there is CFN picking Florida to get by Tennessee and Georgia... and lose to Spurrier and the Gamecocks on 11/12. That's provocative, but unlikely.

While on the subject of provocative preseason projections (alliteration alert!), check out who the SEC coaches selected as the conference preseason first team QB. [Hint: he's not a Gator.]

Brian said...

It's typical CFN. Everything's great and wonderful. I noticed that their preseason previews are all rated on a scale of 10... and I've never seen anything lower than a six. Literally every unit in the nation is above average. I think that's called "pandering".

There's really no analysis deeper than surface level in all 119 previews.

Michael said...

I saw that the coaches tabbed Cutler, which was odd and a sign that everyone in the SEC is unproven under center this year. I would have gone with Leak, mainly because of what I think he'll do in Meyer's offense rather than anything he's done up to this point. Pre-season all-anything lists are a waste of time, anyway. Are they a prediction? A statement of the best players going into the year? An excuse to discuss football six weeks from the start of the season?

I enjoy CFN's columns more during the season. They have more to talk about and don't have to resort to endless lists. They have a tough task writing during an eight-month off-season. I can also say, having written columns for years, including columns for CFN, that it wears on you to get droves of e-mails from irrational fans latching onto negative comments. CFN has to worry about being seen as anti any school, although they clearly aren't concerned with pissing off ND fans since they picked them to be 5-6.

peacedog said...

People are stupid. One of the unfortunate upsides of my eventual ascension to god-emporer of the known cosmos will be that you've got to get a license to have babies. And believe me, it won't be an easy, or short, process.

The average college football fan is like your average human being, only they've lost what little perspective they used to have. Frightening.

Senator Blutarsky said...

The funny thing is, I think Cutler is better suited to run Meyer's offense than Leak is.

Anyway, if Shula could avoid his annual "let's see how I can wreck the kid's season this time" brain fart, Croyle could end up having a better season than either Cutler or Leak.

Michael said...

You think that Mark Richt and Urban Meyer would trade QBs if they had the chance, giving Richt the pure passer for his Fast Break and Meyer his runner for the Option Spread?

And you can't blame Shula for Croyle's injury last year. The first possession of the second half isn't an unreasonable time for the starter to be in. Croyle doesn't have the weapons or the coaching that Leak does, but he should have a good season nonetheless.

Senator Blutarsky said...

I know what you're saying about Croyle, but if I have a (1) 31-0 halftime lead over Western Carolina and (2) a QB who's been less durable than a Yugo, I'm not sure I'm tempting fate there. But you're right - it's a cheap shot, most likely prompted by how incredibly stupid Shula was risking Croyle in Athens the year before.

Croyle may look better than the other two this year by default. I'm not convinced that Leak is going to shine, or survive, this year; he's just not an option QB. And Cutler has less to work with in terms of his surrounding cast than does Croyle.

Michael said...

If Croyle is so brittle that you can't risk him on the first series of the second half, then he was going to get hurt anyway and Shula merely accelerated the inevitable. I completely agree with you on sending him to the wolves against Georgia in a game they had no hope of winning, anyway.

I think Leak is going to have an outstanding season, mainly because I think that Urban Meyer is a friggin' offensive genius and will modify his offense to increase the emphasis on passing, commensurate with Leak's skills. We're also only talking about roughly ten carries per game, which won't produce too much wear on Leak, especially since the hits a runner takes are different than the hits an unsuspecting passer takes.