There were a number of interesting games in the SEC this week. I didn’t see any of them. I spent yesterday with the twins. We had a big celebration with family and friends that was tremendous. I missed Tennessee-Florida and Louisville-Kentucky. I caught the very end of Arkansas-Alabama. There are some very solid teams in the SEC. What else is new? This season, I’ve been impressed with LSU and South Carolina after impressive wins over Virginia Tech and Georgia, respectively. This week, though, the rising star has to be Andre’ Woodson and the Kentucky Wildcats. Woodson led his underrated team to an upset of the highly ranked Louisville Cardinals. In the process, he served notice that Brian Brohm may not be the best quarterback in the nation or even the state of Kentucky.
Woodson was excellent, even though he missed on some plays early. He completed 30 of 44 passes for 275 yards and 4 touchdowns. No interceptions. Not yesterday, not last week or the week before. At 6’5″ and 230 pounds, Woodson looks to be an ideal candidate for the next level. ESPN’s Pat Forde penned a nice piece this summer which chronicled the development of a prospect now ranked #6 by Mel Kiper. Woodson’s rise is attributable to an age-old formula: solid coaching, competition and hard work. Last year, he threw 31 touchdowns and only 7 picks. If he improves on those numbers, he just may elevate his team during the bowl season and increase his attractiveness to hungry NFL general managers.
Forde, in noting that Brohm and Woodson have competed against one another since high school, wrote:
In truth, when Louisville visits Kentucky on Sept. 15 it will be the first time in those eight or nine years that Woodson should have a fighting chance. His supporting cast never came close to matching up with Brohm’s in high school, and it’s been a similar talent mismatch in college.
Now, coming off a buoyant 8-5 season, the Wildcats believe they have their best combination of speed, size and experience in years — decades, perhaps. Coach Rich Brooks has announced he’ll be “extremely disappointed” if Kentucky is not a factor in the SEC race — something it hasn’t been in 30 years.
(Louisville-Kentucky is the NCAA College Football Game of the Week.)
Nick Saban is on to something. The Tide will be a tough team by the end of the season. Arkansas needs a quarterback. No team with Darren McFadden should lose the games this team has lost over the past two years. Florida looks great. Tennessee has fallen off the precipice. Phil Fullmer needs to get some new blood in Knoxville. I don’t know if he needs to give way to new blood or simply make additions. The frustration of losing to California and Florida, while facing the prospect of additional hammering has to have folks wondering what changes need to be made.
I don’t know if LSU is better than Florida. Tim Tebow is doing some things.
The Auburn Tigers are terrible. Then again, the first three games on their schedule were against teams which all play hard – but operate below the national radar: Kansas State, South Florida and Mississippi State. The Tigers are within a hair’s width of being 0-3. Tommy Tuberville has to be wondering what’s happened. Al Borges needs to conjure up some magic. Three of the next five games are against Florida, Arkansas and LSU – all on the road. This Auburn team cannot beat Alabama. Perhaps Tuberville can get a “new” team by the time of the Iron Bowl. If not, this team is looking at no less than 6 losses and a long, long winter.
Congratulations to Sylvester Croom, head coach of the Mississippi State Bulldogs and first Black head coach in the SEC. The Bulldogs have had some difficulties over the past few years. Croom inherited a program that was light years behind the elite teams in the SEC. Still, he has managed to field a competitive squad. The Bulldogs won at Alabama last season. This win should demonstrate to fans and alums that while winning in Starkville is not easy, it is not impossible. Croom needs a little more time – and more recruits like Jerious Norwood to turn the corner.
Florida and LSU appear to be the class of the conference. LSU will get a look at South Carolina next week. Since Spurrier’s squad played South Carolina State yesterday, I’m sure they’ve been game planning for LSU since the second the Georgia game ended. Les Miles better be prepared and appreciate the fact that Steve Spurrier has been thinking about him for at least two weeks. The game should tell a lot about both teams. I expect a close game with LSU’s defense delivering the decisive advantage late. South Carolina gets Florida at home this season. The Gamecocks will be a factor in deciding the SEC all season long. Their late season game vs. Florida will probably determine who faces the SEC-West winner at the end of the season.
The nation’s best football is still played in the SEC.