Monday, October 26, 2009
Monte Kiffin hot, SEC reputation not
By ESPN.com staff
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
It’s time to delve into who’s hot and who’s not in the SEC:
Tennessee defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin: The SEC is full of great defenses, but is there one playing any better than the Vols right now? They haven’t given up a touchdown for eight quarters, and you just knew that Kiffin was going to have something in store for Alabama with an extra week to prepare. He was a step ahead of the Crimson Tide’s offensive staff the entire game. Kiffin remains a legend in NFL circles, and yes, there were some questions about how he would adapt to coaching college kids and coaching in the college game. I guess it’s safe to say we have our answer to those questions now.
Alabama nose guard Terrence Cody: He was already the Big Man on Campus at Alabama. He may end up being the Big Man on Campus who saved Alabama’s season with his two blocked field goals against Tennessee.
Florida’s passing game: The Gators rank a robust 80th nationally in passing offense this week, which is one spot behind Ohio University and three spots behind South Florida. Florida can’t throw it down the field at all right now, which better improve if the Gators want to win a second straight national title.
Vanderbilt running back Warren Norman: He might be the best player nobody’s heard about around the country, and he’s making a serious bid for Freshman of the Year honors in the SEC. Norman rolled up 186 all-purpose yards in the 14-10 loss to South Carolina and scored the Commodores’ only touchdown on a 99-yard kickoff return.
Auburn quarterback Chris Todd: After watching him play so well the first month of the season, it’s hard to believe that Todd has fallen this far this fast. He finished with 47 passing yards and an interception in the 31-10 loss to Auburn and is in danger of losing his job if he doesn’t regain his form.
Ole Miss running back/receiver Dexter McCluster: He made a reappearance in the Ole Miss offense with 260 all-purpose yards in the 30-17 win over Arkansas and became the first Rebels' player in the modern era to go over 100 yards rushing and 100 yards receiving in the same game.
Florida linebacker Dustin Doe: He’s lucky his showboating (or whatever you want to call it) didn’t cost him in the game. Even though the call wasn’t overturned, replays appeared to show that the ball was clearly loose before he crossed the goal line on his interception return against Mississippi State. Here’s a novel idea: Score the touchdown, make sure you’re in the end zone, hand the ball to the official and celebrate with your teammates.
Alabama cornerback Javier Arenas: Coming off a painful injury to his ribs that forced him to miss the South Carolina game, Arenas was everywhere against Tennessee. He finished with a game-high 13 tackles, including 3.5 for loss, and spearheaded Alabama's defensive effort.
Lane Kiffin’s SEC record: The first-year Tennessee coach has the Vols playing hard and playing for 60 minutes. This is a program that looks to be on its way back. Now, if only Kiffin can stay out of the SEC’s doghouse. In a little less than a year, he has twice as many SEC reprimands as he does SEC wins.
Ice, Ice Baby
SEC’s reputation: The last thing the SEC wanted or needed was a weekend where there was more controversy with the officiating. And wouldn’t you know it? The two main issues involved the Alabama and Florida games. Tennessee’s Lane Kiffin and Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen were both reprimanded by the league for comments they made about the officiating. It’s the kind of thing that only fosters the perception out there that the SEC is somehow brokering to have Alabama and Florida both stay unbeaten so the SEC Championship Game will be a bigger deal. It’s like SEC commissioner Mike Slive has a magic button he pushes if Alabama or Florida needs a call. It’s silly to even be taking about it, but it’s out there everywhere, especially after this latest round of reprimands. But it’s just as silly to think that it’s all just going to go away unless the SEC puts some real teeth in its punishment for coaches who take on the officiating publicly. Of course, it would also be nice if the officials would start getting it right in the first place.