College football is a beautiful thing, made even more so by new technology. Before the expansion of cable, the choices in college games were at most 4 games throughout the day and night. Thanks to networks such as ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, Versus, MSG, CBS, NBC & ABC, there were approximately 20 games I had my choice of watching last weekend. Naturally the best games are usually on ABC, CBS or the ESPN night game, but there were a few surprises, as in the USC vs. Utah game. So what made week 2 great? Great players.
Jadaveon Clowney is perhaps the only defensive end in college football that will eventually outsize Julius Peppers. In brief, he is big, fast, and stronger than most grown men. He was also the #1 high school player in the nation last year. Barring any sort of career threatening injury, Clowney already has the length and the motor to chase down even the most nimble of quarterbacks in the SEC.
If you watch his game clips from high school, you see a player that was 6’6 and 235 lbs and literally throwing off offensive lineman like they were toys. People who played against him were rumored to have gone mute, switched to defense themselves, or decided their efforts in football were pointless and thought they would be better suited to the spirit squad. Quarterbacks suddenly pulled hamstrings, got leg cramps or decided it was in their best interest to give their backup a few reps.
On Saturday the boy became the man. In the first half, there were few moments when Clowney was able to dominate offensive lineman, that is until a left guard decided to cover a blitzing linebacker and let Clowney have a 5 yard dash to Aaron Murray. That move of brilliance resulted in a strip sack and a touchdown for the South Carolina defense. It may have also cost Mark Richt a contract extension.
To say the Gamecocks are lucky to have Clowney is an understatement. To note they also had last year’s #1 RB recruit in the country Marcus Lattimore is what may get them to the SEC championship game.Lattimore is a 6’0 220 lb running back that plays like he’s always on the goal line. He finds a hole and jumps through it, very rarely getting caught trying to make a second cut. His numbers, 4.8 YPC and 1197 rush yards as a freshman, do not even speak to how good he can be. If Stephen Garcia can air it out and not grow a beard, Lattimore will get over 1500 this year, in the SEC.
So are the Gamecocks the best team in the SEC? No. That would be Alabama. As an introduction, the only thing you need to know is that 8 of the 11 defensive starters are predicted to either go in the first or second round of the 2012 draft.
If it is defense that sets the tone for Alabama, it’s going to be their running back tandem that closes games out. Trent Richardson is the sort of physical prodigy that makes linebackers and safeties look like they’ve been watching Glee and taking too many yoga classes. Trent Richardson goes to the weight room. He benches 475 and squats 600, which is better than most lineman. NFL lineman.
So if Richardson is the bruiser, what is Eddie Lacy? A clone with a spin move. Circle Button. If you looked quickly, you would think he IS Richardson. Same cut, same insane physique. Same insane ability to run over linebackers and safeties without losing any steam. Alabama will not put up big passing numbers. Neither will teams playing against them. If anyone wants to test what they’ve got, do it against Alabama, not against anyone in the PAC-12. They’re all smoke and mirrors out there anyway.
P.S. – Alshon Jeffery does look fat.
Maryland unveiled their 2nd imitation of the Nike Pro Combat line. Normally I wouldn’t care about something like this, but the whole point of that line is to be a relevant school in a featured game of the year. Maryland will be in no featured game this year, and there will be no point in advertising mediocrity.
Trent Richardson is going to prove he is worth more than Michael Dyer. He will get more 3rd downs, while Eddie Lacey becomes the faster clone. Don’t trust Auburn’s defense, it will leave you cold and alone. Why Cam why? The defense of Auburn will keep them out of the top 10 in the final FBS rankings, and may keep them out of the top 25 by the end of the year. The SEC has no mercy for the weak, ask Tennessee and Georgia.
There is a certain trifecta of teams that I consider “old world”. Nebraska, Iowa and Wisconsin always seem to be of interchangeable parts. Power run. Big defensive line. Nameless quarterbacks, but it’s ok. It’s the system, and the system works in the waterless, landlocked midwest. It makes men of boys.
No one put faith in any Notre Dame quarterback. I’ve seen too many conversations between Brian Kelly and his young quarterbacks and we’re not even a quarter way through the season. They will win a few off pure luck and circumstance, but whatever Notre Dame was before I was born, it is gone and it is not going to be back any time soon. Sorry Golic, this is the age of the SEC.
Florida. Florida will finally make a return to the SEC front, bringing back many a fundamentalist flashback of the great holy ghost of Tebow. Florida defense is probably 3rd biggest in college football after LSU and Alabama. They will run through opposing quarterbacks, and halfbacks will think twice about off tackle runs.
Has anyone noticed Marcus Lattimore’s machinelike tendencies? Even when the game is getting out of hand against Navy, he stands like a statue, waiting to go 5, 8, 6, yards at a time. Gets hit, gets up, walks right back over to the huddle without saying a word. There are few things as terrifying as a running back with Lattimore’s skill set that don’t react to anything.
On the thought of South Carolina, shouldn’t they be more of a threat? Having a top 10 running back and a top 10 defensive end should scare people, right? Well Stephen Garcia is at the helm, and the ship is taking on water. You never know what you get out of Garcia, but it will make things interesting. 3 interceptions and the winning touchdown pass.
Belief in Miami? Who is Lamar Miller? Frank Gore with speed? Will he lift Miami out of the swamps of unranked teams? We all know Jacory Harris will win 2 games himself and lose 2, in no particular order.
They must be doing something right in the state of Florida, because if Florida has a big fast defense, then Florida state has the same thing, except they play with the intensity of rabid wolves. Big hits, big blocks, scary stuff.
Penn State is beating up Eastern Michigan, who is looking like the redheaded stepchild of Michigan for another year. Even Michigan State is enduring beatdowns akin to the one Alabama gave them last year after a baffling end of season slew of losses to Auburn and LSU.
Tommy Rees is again talking to Brian Kelly, who is probably having his Proust moment (A Remembrance of Things Past) with the duo of Mardy Gilyard and Tony Pike putting ridiculous numbers up. Kelly lives in the big time now, and the clergy are waiting for him to lose his cool. Fat paychecks and the attempt to get Michael Floyd the ball keep him up very late at night. How does Kelly cope with having opposite ends of the talent spectrum at quarterback and receiver? Lord only knows.
Why the obsession with teams that don’t matter anymore? History. Penn State and Notre Dame are two of the most historic franchises that are literally running on fumes at this point. Notre Dame hasn’t done anything significant in terms of postseason play in 10 years, Brady Quinn couldn’t keep a starting job and Penn State is a semi talented coachless joke against serious competition (any team from the SEC). Notre Dame will suffer losses against USC and Stanford, while Penn State already got beat again by Alabama, and will have their offense shut down against Nebraska and Wisconsin. I will give them good marks for their defense, but they will not make it back into the top 25 this year.
Oklahoma State is being exposed as a finesse team that relies on the spectacular play of a few, although never count out the heroics of Justin Blackmon. Maybe Texas A&M will make it in the SEC after all.
Alabama is making it clear that they have the best defense in the SEC. LSU may have faster players, but Alabama is bigger, stronger, and more experienced. They are making Arkansas look silly about halfway through the 3rd quarter, holding them to one touchdown, with the possibility another looking less and less likely with every hit they put on the quarterback. 38-14 with 8 minutes left in the 4th is the mark of a team that believes they have something to prove, and Trent Richardson is yet again proving that he is faster and much stronger than most linebackers and defensive backs in college football.
As of now the SEC is beginning to look like it will yet again put a team in the national championship, Oregon looks again to be the only real contender in the PAC 12, Boise State looks like it can go undefeated, and Stanford continues to defy expectations. By the end of the night, there will be fires in Morgantown, and living rooms across West Virginia will be without seating.