Florida's Tebow leaves his cape behind
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
And then there was one. That's right. We're through seven weeks, and only Alabama remains unbeaten in the SEC. The Crimson Tide took this past week off to get ready for the stretch run. How much longer will Alabama remain unscathed? In this league, going unbeaten is probably a thing of the past. But before anybody in the SEC gets too up in arms about the latest rankings or who's moved past whom, it doesn't really matter. The SEC champion, provided it has no more than one loss, still stands a great shot of playing in the BCS national championship game. There will be ample opportunities for Alabama, Florida, Georgia and LSU all to prove their worth over the next month and a half. Here's what we learned about the league in Week 7:
Tebow is settling in: A year ago, Tim Tebow was college football's version of Superman. He put up super-human offensive numbers, the kind of numbers we might not see again anytime soon, and won the Heisman Trophy. As he entered this season, the expectations of duplicating those gaudy numbers were clearly weighing on him. At times, he didn't play like himself. But he seems now to be settling into a role that he embraces. He still drives this offense, but he doesn't have to do it all. Others, such as Chris Rainey and Jeffrey Demps, are emerging and the burden for Tebow to make something happen on every play isn't nearly as daunting. Offensive coordinator Dan Mullen said it best. "I hope he relaxes right now and all those expectations of coming into the season as the Heisman Trophy winner ... put those aside. You're our leader and you need to lead us to the SEC [title]," Mullen said.
Tuberville living a nightmare: Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville is on record as saying it was a mistake to hire Tony Franklin as his offensive coordinator in the first place. Tuberville abruptly fired Franklin last week, and the result was Auburn's worst offensive showing of the season Saturday in a 25-22 home loss to Arkansas. The Tigers stayed in Franklin's no-huddle, spread offense and looked even more lost than they have all season. This has disaster written all over it for the Tigers, who have now lost three of their last four games. Tuberville, normally very open, hasn't allowed his assistant coaches to talk to the media the last week. One of the reasons he reversed course and fired Franklin last Wednesday after earlier endorsing him was apparently because of the lack of chemistry between Franklin and the rest of the staff. It's gotten much bigger than that now for Tuberville, who may himself be in trouble if this season goes down the tubes.
LSU's defense is underachieving: This was supposed to be the most menacing front seven in college football with lots of depth up front. It would be overstating it to say the Tigers are playing poorly on defense right now. They're just not playing up to their potential, or more specifically, up to their talent level. LSU was shredded by Florida on Saturday night in the Swamp in a 51-21 blowout loss. You'd have to search long and hard to find a worse defensive performance by the Tigers this decade. It was the most points LSU has allowed since a 56-13 loss to Florida in 1996. Inexperience in the secondary was a concern coming into the season, and the Tigers have had their problems back there. But they're also not getting consistent pressure on the quarterback. Miles said late Saturday night that he would look at any and all possible changes defensively, including personnel.
The East title goes through Jacksonville: Vanderbilt's loss at Mississippi State all but assured it. The winner of the Florida-Georgia showdown in Jacksonville on Nov. 1 is going to represent the Eastern Division in the SEC championship game. Big surprise, right? Vanderbilt's certainly not out of it and plays at Georgia this coming Saturday, but the Commodores probably needed to go into that game unbeaten to have a legitimate chance at winning the division and going to Atlanta. At this point, Florida appears to have the best path. The Gators also seem to be finding themselves offensively. After the Vanderbilt game this coming weekend, Georgia's next four games are all away from Sanford Stadium -- at LSU, Florida in Jacksonville, at Kentucky and at Auburn. That's a grueling stretch for anybody.
South Carolina has its quarterback: Gamecock Nation, meet your new quarterback. Stephen Garcia's name has been uttered countless times since he first stepped foot on campus in January 2007. But it was usually some fan lamenting the fact that he couldn't stay out of trouble. Well, Garcia has managed to steer clear of the law lately, and he played Saturday in South Carolina's 24-17 win over Kentucky the way Steve Spurrier and the Gamecocks' fans envisioned he would when he first came to Columbia as a highly regarded dual-threat prospect out of Florida. There won't be any suspense this week who the Gamecocks' starting quarterback will be against LSU. Spurrier announced soon after Garcia led the Gamecocks on two fourth-quarter scoring drives to beat Kentucky that the much ballyhooed redshirt freshman was his man.