Tiger-Eye Review – Who shot who Edition

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Tiger-Eye Review – Who shot who Edition

Mid-season high ranked match ups are fun. What’s even more entertaining than these spectacular games played is often the incessant hand wringing, worrying and blind panic it seems to incite in the various fan bases. It often seems that the closer these games get, the more extravagant the fan response. If a team gets blown off the line, blown down the field or blown out of the stadium by seven touchdowns, the response is often muted.  But let a team lose a close one by a final minute score or missed chances and the caterwauling begins to rise among the so-called ‘faithful’ fans of the team. Florida loses in Baton Rouge by two touchdowns? Florida fans are hopeful that their team showed promise. Auburn loses to the same team in the same place by three? Catastrophe. 

It happened to Auburn’s opponents earlier this year.  Go back to the Oregon fan sites after that first week’s last-nine-second loss. The amount of dispirited doubting and questioning of their players, coaches, coordinators was almost at tsunami levels. Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher was rumored to be on the hot seat, not after losing to the former national champion Clemson by two touchdowns, but when they lost to undefeated Auburn by a mere eight. 

Want to see it again? Wait until Saturday night. After Georgia and Florida play, one of those top-ten ranked teams will finish the day with two conference losses. Let me make a prediction – if the game ends close, do a Google search with the terms ‘Fire Mullen!’ or ‘Fire Smart!’ and count the number of responses you see.  If you get fewer than twenty five individual websites, I’ll be surprised. If the game is close, double that number.

Is this vocalization valid? Who knows? But it will happen. You can bet the bank on it.

Here at Tiger-Eye Review, we spend time in other pursuits, namely in monitoring the potential of each of the Southeastern Conference teams and point out who is playing at what level of efficiency throughout the season. Hopefully, these numbers will help point out why.

The standard of excellence.

Who’s going to take down the mad dog in this town?

SEC West Offense

With a second loss by Auburn, Only LSU and Alabama’s offenses remain at championship levels. Auburn’s outstanding defensive effort, stopping LSU in the Red Zone for the very first time this season twice, had absolutely no effect on the Bayou Bengals overall numbers.  This is indicative just how outstanding this Tiger offense is, despite the near upset close win and that team’s difficulty in scoring for the very first time this year, it still has out played, and out performed everyone else in the SEC.

Alabama can move the ball and score on the big play, but their numbers inside the 20 are troubling when you consider who they play after this bye week. 

Everyone else is struggling. A&M, Auburn, Ole Miss are flawed in different ways, and struggle to score consistently. But the real surprise is the free-fall by Mississippi State down to the bottom to rival Arkansas as the most inept offense in the division. This was not expected at all based upon their talent level and preseason expectations.

SEC West Defense

The surprise in this table is the narrowing of the differences between the top three teams.  LSU and Auburn are nearly identical, with similar numbers in each category and a surprising number of common opponents. Alabama has a few common opponents, but hasn’t played the level of talent that the two Tiger teams have, and yet still have surprising slippage on third down and the Red Zone. 

Everyone else is struggling mightily. Huge chunks of yards and touchdowns are falling like a ton of bricks on these teams. Many can make a good stop from time to time, but missed assignments, missed tackles on key plays have burned them badly,.. over and over again.

SEC East Offense

Beyond the Georgia-Florida Classic game, there really isn’t much of a show in the East. The winner waltz into Atlanta, even if they lose another conference game. Check their remaining schedules. Whoever wins this game can stand another conference loss and still represent the division as champion. Everyone else has two or more conference losses. But Georgia has the more stable offensive numbers. Florida can pull a big play, but they are not as efficient as the Dawgs game per game.

Missouri failed to show up two weeks in a row, losing to teams that shouldn’t have even sniffed a first down more than one for every two possessions. But they did and the Tigers are going down fast. Tennessee is seeing a surge in capability, but they still have yet to cross the average line in the cumulative statistics and remain in question in the post season, just like South Carolina.

SEC East Defense

Georgia’s defense is still top of the conference. Even with the loss to South Carolina previously and I expect after Florida.  Can they suffer an occasional big play? Sure, but if you were to follow them drive by drive, you’ll see they are remarkably capable game after game. Florida’s defense is excellent too, and despite a surprising number of yards given up, can still play extraordinarily well. The match between the two offenses and defenses will be very entertaining this week. 

Missouri is still potent on defense, but turnovers and field position are not reflected here, so the quality of play doesn’t always illustrate why they’ve lost two straight. Vanderbilt and South Carolina are still dangerous defensively (just ask Georgia and Missouri), but I just don’t see either of them doing much more than playing spoiler now and again.

State of the Conference

Both divisions are now displaying a seemingly two-team race for the division championships.  But don’t be too sure these will be the only players going forward. There is a chance of a nightmare scenario.

Another loss by the East teams will punt them well out of the playoff discussions, and a loss by the West in the game in Atlanta would have the potential of a single one-loss SEC team who did not play for the conference championship game being selected into the College Football Championship and the ultimate SEC champion (with two or more losses) being left out.

Don’t laugh. It could easily happen. If LSU loses a close one to Bama and Auburn leverages their home field advantage in the Iron Bowl, a wounded Bama team might face a Florida or Georgia team with two losses and lose. The top four teams in the SEC would be a one-loss LSU and three other two-loss teams, one of whom LSU would have already beaten. 

 I’m not predicting this in the least. But merely pointing out that a whole lot of football has still to be played this year and even when these two monumental games of UF-UGA and UA-LSU are resolved, the conference will still have to weather the remainder of the season. As we have seen, just about anything can and will happen on any given Saturday in the sport we all love.


Now that we’re home, let’s unpack from that road trip

Side Note: For those critical of the play calling and offensive scheme of Auburn. Take a good long look at what the SMU ponies are doing this year, now undefeated at 7-0. Rhett Lashlee is calling nearly identical plays as his mentor with nearly identical schemes, formations and game plan. 

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