Monday, November 7, 2011
Weekend rewind: SEC
By Chris Low
I’d say the Bayou is still hot and rocking.
Who else is hot (or not)? As we do every Monday, we find out:
Les Miles has LSU within reach of playing for a second national title in the past five years.
Les Miles: He’s starting to become a cult hero in addition to being one of the best football coaches out there. What’s not to like about Miles? He wins big games. He’s genuinely a nice man. He chooses family over football. He tells on himself when one of his players knocks him down on the way to the field. He’s must-see TV any time he’s speaking. No, he’s not perfect and has had his moments where we’ve all scratched our heads and written it off as a “Les moment.” But, boy, does he look like a barrel of fun to play for, and his players swear by him. Here’s the other thing: He’s guided this team through one land mine after another this season, and the Tigers are in great shape now to play for their second national championship in the past five years. There might have been a time when even the LSU faithful weren’t quite sure about Miles. But they’d all agree now: The Hat is hip.
LSU punter Brad Wing: His idea of football might be a little skewed coming from Australia, but where would this LSU team be without him? Wing’s 73-yard punt changed the complexion of the game in the 9-6 overtime victory against Alabama, and he kept the Tigers in it by pinning the Crimson Tide inside their 5 twice.
Alabama’s discipline: Everybody’s going to blame the Alabama place-kickers, but the Crimson Tide made too many mistakes to win the LSU game. They had two interceptions, a costly penalty on Mark Barron’s interception return, and go back and look at how many times they had penalties or negative plays any time they moved inside the LSU 40.
Arkansas receiver Jarius Wright: Always a good player, Wright has become a great player for the Hogs and is having just a fabulous season. He caught two more touchdown passes in the win over South Carolina to go along with 103 receiving yards and leads the SEC with nine touchdown catches.
South Carolina’s defense: After going five consecutive games without giving up more than 16 points, South Carolina came back to reality against Arkansas. The Hogs rolled 44-28 and piled up 435 yards of total offense. One of the touchdowns was a kickoff return, but the Gamecocks were just never able to consistently stop the Hogs.
Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray: Throwing five touchdown passes in one game is always an accomplishment. But Murray threw five in the second quarter last week in the win over New Mexico State. Murray, a sophomore, now has 47 touchdown passes for his career. The SEC career record is 114 by Florida’s Danny Wuerffel. The Georgia career record is 72 by David Greene.
SEC quarterbacks: This won’t be a season to remember for overall quarterback play in this league. Injuries have played a big part. Throw in some youth, too, and then in some cases, teams simply haven’t been able to recruit and/or develop enough good quarterbacks. Playing against some of the defenses in this league isn’t a quarterback’s idea of nirvana, either.
Nutt’s end: For a guy who’s spent 14 seasons in the SEC as a head coach, this isn’t the way it was supposed to end for Houston Nutt. He’s not being retained by Ole Miss after four seasons, although he will coach these final three games. Two losing seasons in a row is what did him in, not to mention a 12-game SEC losing streak. There are few places in the SEC where anybody could survive back-to-back losing seasons when they’re in Year No. 4 on the job and still be around for Year No. 5. The unfortunate thing for Nutt is that he guided the Rebels to back-to-back nine-win seasons his first two years on the job, including Cotton Bowl victories each year, but it’s doubtful many people will remember those first two seasons. They will remember how it all ended for Nutt, who’s been successful before and will be again. He’ll get another shot somewhere else and deserves another shot.