Are Southeastern Conference defenses overrated?Published 1:38pm Thursday, September 19, 2013
Now that I have your undivided attention, the answer is: absolutely not. But I will add to this by saying that after watching way too many games last past few weeks, I can honestly say that if anything can be said so far about the SEC, it may be that the offenses are underrated.
Alabama and Texas A&M really put on a show – but not the show CBS usually is promoting at game time.
The Crimson Tide and the Aggies gave us a game that typifies what college football should be and what the best conference on the planet puts out each and every week. But this game had a different taste and flavor that was foreign to most who watch Southeastern Conference football.
Not once during the entire broadcast did we hear Verne (Oh my) Lundquist or Gary (where am I) Danielson mention the word “defense.” The cue for either announcer comes from a CBS producer in the truck right after they flash a PAC-12 score on the television screen.
It usually goes something like this. “Boy,” Verne might say, “That’s a score we wouldn’t recognize in this league.”
Yes, it was a terrific game with a lot of action, but tackling was nowhere to be found this day.
If the Aggies would have been a bit more patient early on, they may have won this game, instead, Alabama prevailed 49-42.
Point: In the second quarter, there was a 14-point swing when Alabama intercepted the ball in the end zone with the game tied 14-14. After Ben Malena rushed for eight yards to the Bama 7-yard line, Johnny Manziel followed up with a run to the four setting up a third down and goal. Manziel threw into a small window and the pass was picked off by Cyrus Jones.
Not only did the Aggies come away with no points, the Crimson Tide used only four plays to capitalize on the turnover. Bama quarterback A.J. McCarron threw a 51 yard pass to Kenny Bell and that was that.
I do not care who the quarterback is – When you’re down 35-14 and you are facing a team with the mindset Alabama has, you either capitalize when you are given the opportunity or you go home thinking about, “What if?”
By the numbers: Alabama, the top defense in the nation the past few years, gave up a school record 628 yards. Alabama, not to be outdone, gained 568 yards.
That is a total of 1,196 total yards between them. This was most definitely not your typical SEC game.
The 42 points Alabama gave up was the most ever by a Nick Saban coached team since he has been in Tuscaloosa.
Fast forwarding to this week, we have a less than favorable slate, but there are a few intriguing games that should get some attention.
Tonight, there is No. 3 Clemson at North Carolina State. Is this the game the Tigers “pull a Clemson” on national TV, or has the program matured?
No. 23 Arizona State travels to No. 5 Stanford after a fortuitous win over Wisconsin. Both teams are undefeated, and Stanford has looked more like an SEC team, winning against Army and San Jose State in boring fashion.
Utah State will invade the Coliseum and play the underachieving USC Trojans.
The “other Aggies” are ranked No. 8 in the nation in total offense scoring just less than 50 points a game. USC is ranked No. 8 in the nation in total defense.
Utah State wins and this will be the final nail in the “Kiffin.” Sorry, I’ve been waiting patiently for this.
No. 1 Alabama gets a breather when they host Colorado State. Auburn travels to Baton Rouge and faces No. 6 LSU in what I call the “Crossroads game.”
LSU quarterback Zeke Mettenberger has thrown nine touchdowns and no interceptions. He has only been sacked twice.
Prediction: All that changes Saturday. The Auburn Tigers and new defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson keeps Mettenberger scrambling and out of sync with his receivers.
Auburn wins with a late field goal.
Until next time …
Meyers is a sports columnist for The Outlook. You can follow him on Twitter at @brucemeyers11.