Sneaky Good 74: Auburn in the Rearview, Alabama Ahead, and Clowns (No, Not the Refs)

OK, maybe the refs.

After a one-week hiatus, Poseur and Chris are back with Seth and Jake to recap the Auburn game, then talk Game of the Century II. Do the Tigers have what it takes to beat Bama this year? The guys also discuss the first College Football Playoff rankings of the season, and answer listener questions.

We’ve had our fluids, we’ve stretched, we’ve even taken a nice nap… we are prepared for this Bama game. Doing all the things you need to do to get ready for this thing.

Intro/outro song is “Je Suis Fier de Toi” by The Mudbugs Cajun & Zydeco Band from their 2010 album “Mudbugs”. Used with permission and gratitude!

FSU football’s head-coaching search: Candidate pros & cons, with updates

NCAA FOOTBALL: JAN 02 Sugar Bowl - Auburn v Oklahoma

Photo by Stephen Lew/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Next?

Let’s attempt to corral this madness. The Seminoles are in the market for their next head football coach, and as is par for the social-media course, lunacy has ensued. So we’re here to inject a little perspective, in the form of disseminating which hires are actually viable for the ’Noles. We’ll update this piece as new information becomes available, but keep in mind that this list is neither exhaustive nor an endorsement.

Bob Stoops

Allstate Sugar Bowl - Auburn v Oklahoma
Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

This is FSU’s top choice. But despite what some want you to believe, nothing appears to have been finalized as of yet. As per usual, many without real information will hazard guesses, hoping they’re right so that they can later claim to have been first with the news. But the retired Stoops is an attractive option because he brings massive clout and experience, as a former national champion head coach with Oklahoma— and the fact that he doesn’t require a buyout only helps, even if the ’Noles will likely make it up in salary. However, Stoops hasn’t been the biggest fan of recruiting in the southeast.

Several national voices have been quite down on the possibility of Stoops taking over in Tallahassee, but early denial is often the name of the game when it comes to the extended courtship involved between big-name programs and top-tier coaches.

Mark Stoops

Kentucky v Georgia
Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

A former Seminole defensive coordinator (2010-2012), Mark is Bob’s younger brother and currently the head coach at Kentucky. In addition to experience in Tallahassee, he’s done a nice job resurrecting Wildcat football at a basketball school, but he’s far from the most inspiring target out there. Then again, his $1.75 million buyout is far from prohibitive, and FSU is far from drowning in cash.

James Franklin

Penn State v Iowa
Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images

Franklin’s name was bandied about when Florida State was last searching for a head coach, and his star is on the rise. The Penn State team he leads is 8-0 and 4th in the first College Football Playoff rankings. His $1 million buyout isn’t much, and he has head coaching experience in the southeast, having helmed the ship at Vanderbilt from 2011-2013. Competing against Clemson every year doesn’t sound like much of a draw— but Franklin is a great recruiter, and the Big Ten East is no slouch either. Still, would he want to leave Happy Valley, given what he’s built with the Nittany Lions?

Mike Norvell

Memphis v Temple
Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Norvell’s was another name mentioned the last time FSU sought a new boss. The Memphis head coach has limited head coaching experience, having been in charge of the Tigers since just 2016, but his 8-1 team boasts a top-10 SP+ offense. With a buyout of only $500,000, the price is right. And he’s only 38.

P.J. Fleck

Minnesota v Rutgers
Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images

After a year coaching receivers for the Tampa Bay Bucs, Fleck debuted as a head coach with Western Michigan prior to taking over at Minnesota in 2017. The Golden Gophers are 8-0 (an inflated record against the Big Ten Coastal — er, West). Still, they have a top-25 offense and defense, per SP+ rankings, which is adjusted for opponents. But Fleck just agreed to a big extension in Minneapolis, and the buyout of $4 million is pricey, especially for a guy with no college coaching experience of any kind south of the Mason-Dixon line.

Matt Campbell

Iowa State v Iowa
Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images

Winning at Iowa State isn’t easy, but Campbell has shown that it’s more than possible, having captured Big 12 Coach of the Year honors for the last two seasons. Like Fleck, he’s another midwesterner, and also like Fleck, his buyout is high: north of $6 million. It’s a matter of time before Campbell bolts Ames— could that time be now?

Gus Malzahn

Auburn v LSU
Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Now Auburn’s head coach, Malzahn was the OC for the Tigers or War Eagles or Peace Lillies or whatever when they won the national title in 2010. All he needed was a future No. 1 pick QB— so he’s basically Jimbo Fisher. Kidding. But Malzahn is the guy they love to hate on the Plains, so if he wants a change of scenery, he could inherit the same role in Tallahassee.

Odell Haggins

Florida State Announces Firing of Head Football Coach Willie Taggart - New Conference
Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

Florida State’s interim head coach for the second time in three years, Haggins’ loyalty to the program is unquestionable. He’s an exceptional recruiter, but would this be a longterm move for the future, or a temporary, feel-good fix? Haggins is also the only guy on this list without any extended head-coaching experience— are the Seminoles in a position to let him learn on the job?

Again, there are more candidates out there. And while some are more likely hires than others, we find these to be plausible — if not probable — options. We’re not here to waste your time, which is why we present the following most recent “possibility” without comment.

Notre Dame Football: Duke Blue Devils Preview

NCAA Football: Duke at Wake Forest

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame has to play Duke again. It will hopefully not be like last time.

You guys are never going to believe this, but the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team has yet ANOTHER game this weekend.

Yes, I know, it’s wild.

The 6-2, #15 Irish travel to Durham to face off against Coach David Cutcliffe and his 4-4 Duke Blue Devils tomorrow, and after the past two games for Notre Dame, it goes without saying that even Duke can make us uneasy about how our team will perform…especially remembering the last time ND took on the Blue Devils.

Sorry about that, you’ll probably want to toss some acid into your eyes really quick. Maybe watch this to get some positive feelings back in ya?

Once you’ve done that, let’s move past watching a BVG defense lose to Duke at home and focus on Clark Lea’s squad hopefully turning it up a notch while the offense does the same, eh?

Here’s how the two teams match up.

Duke Offense vs. Notre Dame Defense

The Duke Blue Devils offense is not particularly great this season. They’re ranked 95th offensively in SP+ and are 100th in total offense (66th in rushing, 103rd in passing). Furthermore, they average less than 30 points per game, 64th in the country in scoring offense.

Meanwhile, Clark Lea’s defense has, besides the Michigan game, proven to be very consistent and pretty stingy, ranked 29th in SP+ ratings, 33rd in total defense, and 28th in scoring defense. On paper, this group should suffocate the Blue Devils and it should be smooth sailing for the Irish.

Unfortunately, that’s not how things have gone for the Irish lately, and Duke brings another dual-threat QB and some explosive offensive weapons to the table that could cause some issues.

Let’s start with the Duke passing game, which is certainly their weakness, which is odd considering David Cutcliffe is known for being such a good developer of QBs and a strong offensive mind. However, with the departure of 1st Round pick Daniel Jones, Quentin Harris has stepped in as QB1, and although he’s been decent passing the ball, he also hasn’t seen a pass defense as good as ND’s since the opener vs. the Alabama Crimson Tide. Duke lost that game 42-3 while Harris went 12-for-22 for 97 yards, 0 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions.

NCAA Football: Duke at North Carolina
Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports

Indeed, the Irish’s pass defense is 14th in the country in passing yards allowed per game, and 19th in yards allowed per passing attempt, surrendering just 6.28. That group, as we all know at this point, is led by a bevy of veteran guys that includes a pair of senior captains at safety — Alohi Gilman (46 tackles, 1 INT, 1 FF, 1 FR) and Jalen Elliott (29 tackles, 2 PD, 2 INT) — as well as reliable cover guys Troy Pride Jr. (27 tackles, 5 PD) and Shaun Crawford (17 tackles, 2 PD, 1 INT). That nucleus of seniors does a fantastic job of not letting receivers get behind them for many big plays, and none of them shy away from contact or making key tackles in space.

Along with those older guys, there have been a couple of youths making waves in the secondary, as TaRiq Bracy (21 tackles, 5 PD, 1 FF, 1 FR) stepped up in Crawford’s absence while he was injured, and freshman Kyle Hamilton has been better than advertised — 28 tackles, 3 PD, 3 INT (1 TD) — which is saying a lot for the 5-star talent.

NCAA Football: Virginia Tech at Notre Dame
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

The continued strong play from that group will be important, as Harris has been able to find some success this year with some pretty dynamic receivers running routes for him. The leader of that group has been WR Jalon Calhoun, who’s hauled in 37 passes for 294 yards and 3 touchdowns so far this season.

WR Scott Bracey is a big-play, home run threat kind of guy who’s got 257 yards and a pair of scores on just 19 catches, and Aaron Young has been equally strong with 18 catches, 234 yards, and two touchdowns himself. Add in TE Noah Gray’s 32 receptions for 238 yards and 2 scores, along with the unbelievable catch-to-touchdown ratio of Eli Pancol — 4 catches on the year, 3 touchdowns scored — and the Blue Devils have some skill guys who can hurt you if allowed to get open.

Running backs Deon Jackson and Mataeo Durant, in fact, are pretty strong in the passing game as well, combining for 28 receptions, 262 yards, and 3 touchdowns out of the backfield.

Of course, none of this will matter if QB Quentin Harris can’t get the ball consistently to those guys — especially considering they won’t be open every play with that vaunted Irish pass defense hounding them on their routes.

Harris is an okay passer, having tossed the ball for 1,500 yards and 13 touchdowns so far in 2019 while completing passes at a 61% clip. However, he’s averaging just 6.1 yards per attempt through the air, and has managed to throw 7 interceptions already, meaning the Irish secondary has to be licking their chops a bit, hoping Harris takes the wrong chance out there.

One way Clark Lea can help nudge Harris in that direction will be by hitting him with a good pass rush that gets to the QB, hits him often, contains him in the pocket while collapsing said pocket, and piles up the sacks. The defensive end duo of Julian Okwara (16 tackles, 4 sacks, 2 FF, 1 FR) and Khalid Kareem (28 tackles, 4.5 sacks) are WAY overdue for a repeat of the 2nd half performance against the Virginia Cavaliers, and Harris is similar in a lot of ways to Perkins in terms of his being a decent passer and a VERY dangerous runner.

Bowling Green v Notre Dame
Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

If Okwara and Kareem — in conjunction with key reserves Adetokunbo Ogundeji and Jamir Jones (combined 32 tackles, 4 sacks, 3 FF, 1 FR TD) and linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (4 sacks) — can put frequent heat on Harris and make sure he’s bottled up and taken to the turf often, the Irish will really be in business, considering how one-dimensional that kind of effort will make the Blue Devils.

Duke’s got an okay running game, and Notre Dame’s rush defense definitely leaves something to be desired (72nd in total rushing defense, 61st in yards allowed per rush at 4.03), so this would be where the Blue Devils could do some damage if the defense isn’t able to take away the pass and focus heavily on stopping the run.

Deon Jackson leads Duke in rushing with 487 yards and 5 touchdowns while averaging a decent 3.9 yards per carry, and his backup Mataeo Durant is solid as well with 248 yards, 3.8 yards per carry, and a rushing touchdown of his own.

Add in Harris and his 408 yards and 6 rushing touchdowns while averaging 3.9 yards per scramble, and Duke would have the weapons necessary to gash the Irish on the ground if they’re having to invest too much in preventing big passing plays.

The most important guys in containing Jackson, Harris, and Durant will be the Irish linebackers. The trio of Asmar Bilal (51 tackles), Drew White (48 tackles, 1 sack), and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (45 tackles, 1 FF, 1 FR) have had their ups and downs this year, but if they can pick the right gaps to shoot and be as sure-tackling as we’ve seen them be, Duke will struggle to move the ball, considering their limitations through the air.

NCAA Football: New Mexico at Notre Dame
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

It will also be important that Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa (16 tackles, 1 FR), Kurt Hinish (13 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 FF), and Jayson Ademilola (16 tackles) continue to get a good push in the middle and clog things up, giving the linebackers time to read the run and make plays.

Offensive Blue Devil to Watch

QB Quentin Harris

If Harris can find just an iota of success through the air tomorrow, it will go a long way in terms of keeping the Irish defense honest and giving the Blue Devils running game some room to work. That plus some big scrambles to keep the chains moving will allow the Dukies to hang around in this one, and with the game played in Durham, who knows what could happen if Duke’s still there at the end of the line.

NCAA Football: Duke at Virginia
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive Irish to Watch

DE Julian Okwara

The man was a preseason All-American and projected first round pick, but he’s been incredibly quiet for much of the year. Some of it can be chalked up to teams keying on him and double-teaming him and getting the ball out quick so he’s less effective, but he’s also seemed to disappear at times. With the team still struggling quite a bit, an explosive, loud game from the senior captain would go a long way toward energizing the team and potentially spurring a blowout road win.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 14 New Mexico at Notre Dame

Halftime Funtime

Best Names in the Game

  1. Notre Dame RB C’Borius Flemister
  2. Notre Dame LS Axel Raarup
  3. Notre Dame S Litchfield Ajavon
  4. Duke PK Charlie Ham
  5. Duke S Lummie Young IV
  6. Notre Dame TE Tommy Tremble
  7. Duke OT Peace Addo
  8. Duke LB Koby Quansah
  9. Notre Dame DL Hunter Spears
  10. Duke LS Lee Rodio
  11. Notre Dame LB Ovie Oghoufo
  12. Duke WR Damond Philyaw-Johnson
  13. Notre Dame DE Nana Osafo-Mensah
  14. Duke RB Brittain Brown
  15. Duke G Rakavius Chambers
  16. Notre Dame CB Temitope Agoro
  17. Notre Dame DE Adetokunbo Ogundeji
  18. Duke QB Gunnar Holmberg
  19. Notre Dame RB Jafar Armstrong
  20. Duke LB Sayyid Stevens

Devil Power Rankings, No Context or Explanation Given

  1. Devil’s Food Cake
  2. A “devil may care” attitude
  3. Tasmanian Devil (cartoon character)
  4. Tasmanian Devil (animal)
  5. “Speak of the devil”
  6. Playing Devil’s advocate
  7. “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” by The Charlie Daniels Band
  8. The Devil Wears Prada (2006)
  9. “The devil is in the details”
  10. Devil (2010), which has the following description on IMDB: “A group of people are trapped in an elevator and the Devil is mysteriously amongst them”
  11. Geographical features named after the Devil
  12. Arizona State Sun Devils
  13. Deviled eggs
  14. Lucifer/Satan (like, just the actual Devil)
  15. “Devil in Disguise” by Elvis Presley
  16. Make a deal with the devil/sell your soul to the devil
  17. New Jersey Devils
  18. Duke Blue Devils

Notre Dame Offense vs. Duke Defense

Whereas the Notre Dame defense appears to have a lot of advantages over the Duke offense, what should be much more interesting is the matchup between the ND offense and the Blue Devil defense.

Both are ranked 37th in the SP+, and although the Irish are 39th in scoring offense while Duke is just 55th in scoring defense, Duke’s defense does a pretty good job of limiting offensive production overall (40th in total defense) while the Irish struggle a bit in producing great raw offensive output (58th in total offense).

Thus, it should be fun to see if offensive coordinator Chip Long is able to change up his game plan a bit after a horrid performance in the rain at Michigan and a mostly bad follow-up against a Virginia Tech defense that rates lower than Duke’s.

NCAA Football: Wake Forest at Notre Dame
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

The key, no doubt, will be QB Ian Book and his continued search for redemption after some disappointing games earlier in the season. Book has been fairly productive overall with 1,828 yards and 17 touchdowns this season, and has done a great job in limiting turnovers, throwing just 4 interceptions.

However, his accuracy (58% completion) has dipped substantially — roughly 10 percentage points — since last season, and persistent issues with abandoning the pocket early and not being able/willing to toss deep balls to a nice array of deep threats has left the offense an incomplete mess that really has trouble driving down the field and scoring against competent defenses.

Duke’s pass defense is its strength on that side of the ball, as the Blue Devils are 43rd in the country in passing defense and 27th in yards allowed per passing attempt (6.75). Their secondary includes a number of guys with a penchant for making plays on the ball, like safeties Marquis Waters (43 tackles, 5 PD, 2 INT) and Michael Carter II (37 tackles, 3 PD) and corners Leonard Johnson (33 tackles, 5 PD, 2 INT, 1 FF, 1 FR) and Josh Blackwell (18 tackles, 4 PD).

NCAA Football: Duke at Virginia
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Add in Dylan Singleton, who is 2nd on the team in tackles with 55 (plus 2 FF and 1 FR), and Jalen Alexander, who has 2 picks himself in 2019, and it’s obvious that Duke’s secondary is entirely capable of making some big plays, especially if Ian Book manages to make some big mistakes and throw the ball into risky spots like he did against Georgia and Virginia Tech.

Book will especially be interesting to watch due to Duke’s solid pass rush they’ll send his way — the Blue Devils are tied with Notre Dame for 35th in the country in team sacks, and have multiple guys who really know how to get to the QB and wreak havoc. DE Victor Dimukeje is the guy to watch in that regard, as he’s already got 6.5 sacks on the season and will surely have been told by his coaching staff that his ability to put pressure on Book will force him to ditch his progressions, scramble, and hopefully do much less damage than what could be done by standing in and patiently finding open receivers downfield.

Alongside Dimukeje, look for defensive ends Chris Rumph II (30 tackles, 3 sacks, 3 PD) and Tre Hornbuckle (24 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 2 FF) to be causing some issues — especially considering the recent injury to starting right tackle Robert Hainsey, as he is done for the season with a broken ankle.

NCAA Football: Alabama vs Duke
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive tackles Trevon McSwain and Edgar Cerenord (combined 36 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 2 FF, 1 INT) provide some decent heft in the middle and could cause issues as well, what with RG Tommy Kraemer out with a sprained MCL. How Duke attacks that weakened right side of the ND offensive line, and how reserves Trevor Ruhland and Josh Lugg hold up, will be critical for how much time Book even has to pass tomorrow.

If Book does find himself with decent protection, he will of course first look to his two go-to targets, Chase Claypool and Cole Kmet. Claypool was once again fantastic and critical to the team’s success in the 21-20 win over the Hokies last weekend, as he reeled in 8 passes for 118 yards, including multiple HUGE, clutch catches on the final scoring drive for the Irish. On the season, Claypool has amassed a stat line of 37 catches for 554 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Kmet has probably not been targeted in this offensive game plan as much as fans would like, but he’s still a major mismatch whenever he’s out there running routes, and in 6 games has been able to snare 27 balls for 318 yards and 5 touchdowns, which is pretty damn good considering the roller coaster ride this offense has been on this year.

Along with Claypool and Kmet, look for Book to hopefully sprinkle in passes to guys like Javon McKinley (11 rec, 268 yds, 4 TD), Chris Finke (20 rec, 233 yds, 1 TD), and Tommy Tremble (11 rec, 145 yds, 3 TD). Avery Davis and Braden Lenzy (17 rec, 232 yds, 3 TD combined) could also add a spark or two if given the chance, considering their speed and cutting ability.

If Duke is successful in pressuring Book and taking him out of his game through the air, the Irish will HAVE to be running the ball successfully to have a shot at winning this game. Rush defense is not really a strong suit for this Duke defense (54th in rushing defense, 53rd in yards per rush allowed), but unfortunately for us Irish fans, the ND rushing offense has not exactly been dominant this year (72nd in the country in total rushing, 63rd in yards per rush). Considering 40% of the starting offensive line is out, it might be a long day for Tony Jones Jr. and Jafar Armstrong in trying to get things going on the ground.

Virginia Tech v Notre Dame
Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

Jones Jr. has been very good this season, having run for 571 yards and 4 touchdowns while averaging 6.5 yards per carry. He sat out the Virginia Tech game after injuring his ribs against Michigan, but will supposedly be good to go tomorrow in Durham. The Irish could certainly use him back, considering his powerful, agile running style and consistent ability to move the chains if given just a sliver of room to work with by his offensive line.

Jafar Armstrong, meanwhile, has been hurt for much of the season, and since returning from injury has really done nothing of note, running for just 46 yards and averaging a paltry 1.8 yards per carry. Jahmir Smith has actually been the second-best back for the Irish, running for 4.5 yards per carry while accumulating 122 yards and 2 touchdowns this year.

Of course, I’d be remiss in talking about the ND rushing offense if I left out Ian Book and his 251 yards and 4 touchdowns on the ground, including the game winner against VaTech last weekend. For all the flaws Book has, he’s still a very good runner for a QB, and definitely uses his legs pretty well when necessary to turn losses into gains, move the chains, and give defenses fits.

On Saturday, there will be a trio of linebackers tasked with running him down and making sure Irish ball carriers can’t find any space in the second level in general. Koby Quansah is the leader of that group, considering his 72 tackles (plus 1.5 sacks, 2 PD, 1 FR), and along with Brandon Hill (50 tackles, 1 sack, 3 PD) and Shaka Heyward (33 tackles, 1 sack, 2 FR), they definitely have the skill and aggression necessary to bottle up the ND run game if the offensive line struggles to get a good push up front.

Georgia Tech v Duke
Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Defensive Blue Devil to Watch

DE Victor Dimukeje

We know at this point that getting into Ian Book’s face, like with many other QBs, is the best way to force him to make mistakes, abandon plays early, etc. Dimukeje is an excellent pass rusher, and with junior captain Robert Hainsey out for the rest of the year, Dimukeje may have free reign at times in getting to the ND QB. If that’s indeed the case — watch out, folks.

NCAA Football: Duke at Virginia
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Offensive Irish to Watch

QB Ian Book

Guess who! Book played a bit better last week, but the offense still struggled mightily and Book made some near-critical mistakes that he simply shouldn’t be making at this point. Duke’s got a solid defense, and with the right side of the o-line out, Book will need to elevate his game and make some dazzling passes and runs to ensure the Irish come away from North Carolina with a W.

NCAA Football: Virginia Tech at Notre Dame
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Special Teams???

Duke’s kicker, AJ Reed, has not missed a kick this season. He is 27-for-27 on extra points and 9-for-9 on field goals. Folks, it’s time for that to change, amiright???

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 19 Duke at Virginia
Photo by Lee Coleman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Meanwhile, ND’s Jonathan Doerer has been pretty damn good himself, making all 32 of his PAT tries while also hitting 6 of his 8 field goals.

Duke is rated a bit better in special teams than the Notre Dame — the Blue Devils are 31st in SP+ vs. 44th for the Irish — but I don’t anticipate special teams playing too huge of a role in this one (and of course, in saying that, I have all but ensured that Duke will run back a kickoff or ND will block a field goal or something).

Alright, Let’s Predict the Result of This One

Notre Dame 33, Duke 20

Duke is better than Virginia Tech for sure, so this won’t be an easier match-up than last weekend, especially on the road and with some injuries taking their toll. But with that said, I think the Irish are going to once again improve their play week-over-week, we’ll see some big turnovers from the defense, and Ian Book and his squad will be just good enough to make this a comfortable final score despite a decently close game happening throughout. Sorry, David Cutcliffe!

Preview: Alabama WRs vs. LSU DBs

NCAA Football: Arkansas at Alabama

Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

Can LSU cover Alabama’s fearsome foursome?

Game of the Century Part 136 (or whatever number we’re on by now) will look a lot different than the one in 2011 that ended 9-6. While both offenses were averaging over 30 points per game that year, it was a defensive slugfest. This year looks likely to be a shootout.

As Brent covered last week, LSU has a potent receivers. LSU is averaging 46.8 points per game, good for fourth in the country. Their passing offense? Second in the country with 377.8 yards per game. The Tigers can score.

Of course, so can Alabama. While LSU is fourth in scoring offense, Bama is second, averaging 48.6 yards per game. Much of that is driven by the best wide receiver corps in the nation, with arguably the best quarterback throwing to them. The Tide’s passing offense ranks fifth in the country, and that’s with Tua Tagovailoa missing a game.

Of the 32 passing touchdowns scored, Alabama’s receivers have hauled in 24 of them. LSU has that trio Brent highlighted, but Alabama has a…quadro……quartet…quadrumvirate…four really good receivers.

Jerry Jeudy is the reigning Biletnikoff winner. He leads the team in receptions with 52. He’s second on the team in receiving yards (682 yards) and touchdowns (8). Jeudy started off the year with two 100 yard games (18 receptions for 240 yards and 4 touchdowns in those two games). I can’t say he faded or struggled or anything like that; he just didn’t put up as ridiculous numbers as he had been doing. And that’s partially because of this next guy.

DeVonta Smith was sort of the forgotten guy in Alabama’s receiver room, his 2nd and 26 heroics notwithstanding. Now, however, he leads the team in receiving yards 721 yards and 9 touchdowns. His 274 yard, 5 touchdown performance against Ole Miss set school records.

Henry Ruggs III is churning out another productive season. He has 26 receptions for 513 yards and 6 touchdowns, with a team-leading 19.73 yards per reception. Ruggs notched two 100 yard games in all of 2018; he has two through 8 games this year.

Finally, there’s Jaylen Waddle. The sophomore speedster is having a relatively quiet season with 297 yards and notably only 1 touchdown. On most teams, Waddle would be the unquestioned #1 or #2 receiver, especially finishing last year second on the team in receiving yards. At Alabama, he’s fighting for touches. He is on pace for roughly the same number of receptions; they’re just not going for the same crazy yards per catch.

Opposing the four horseman is an LSU secondary that is chock full of talent but that has been taken advantage of at times this season. LSU’s pass defense ranks 60th in the nation, allowing 217.5 yards per game. The Tigers gave up 409 passing yards and 4 touchdowns to Texas. They have improved since then, only allowing over 300 yards once (to Florida) while hauling in at least one interception every game (9 in those 5 games), though they also haven’t exactly faced a murderers’ row of quarterbacks.

Freshman phenom Derek Stingley Jr. has already emerged as probably the best cornerback on LSU’s team. The former 5 star, #3 overall recruit leads the Tigers with 4 interceptions (all in the last 5 games) and 9 pass break-ups, for an SEC-leading 13 passes defended. You can find Stingley’s name in a bunch of midseason All-American teams, and you’ll likely find him in ones at the end of the season. He’s one of 20 semifinalists for the Bednarik Award.

Senior cornerback Kristian Fulton is no slouch either, projected by many as a first round pick. He’s right behind Stingley with 8 pass break-ups and recorded his first interception a few weeks ago against Mississippi State.

Junior safety Kary Vincent Jr. plays nickel for the Tigers. He has 26 tackles on the year, with a solid 8 tackle game coming against Mississippi State, while adding an interception and 4 pass break-ups. Additionally, Vincent runs track for LSU and was part of the Tigers’ 4×100 meter relay team that won an SEC championship earlier this year.

LSU has another projected 2020 first round pick in their secondary in safety Grant Delpit. Delpit was a unanimous All-American in 2018 and was on midseason All-American teams this year. He was also recently named one of the 14 semifinalists for the Thorpe Award. Delpit injured his ankle against Auburn last month and has been a bit gimpy, but Ed Orgeron expects him to be “totally healthy” come Saturday. It’s something to keep an eye on.

Next to Delpit is junior Jacoby Stephens. Stephens has been a versatile player for the Tigers. He started his career as a wide receiver before switching back to defense in 2018. He’s able to play deep or come down and play in a hybrid safety-linebacker role for defensive coordinator Dave Aranda. And Stephens has had some success, earning SEC co-Defensive Player of the Week honors for his 8 tackle, 1 sack, 1 interception performance against Mississippi State.

Chomping at Bits: Florida to play home-and-homes with Cal, Arizona State, per report

NCAA Football: Arizona State at California

Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Florida might be spending much of the next decade in home-and-homes with Pac-12 teams.

Chomping at Bits comes stocked with the best Florida Gators links and news we can find, and maybe some other stuff. Here’s hoping it will be daily through the rest of football season.

Report: Florida to meet Cal, Arizona State in home-and-home series: One of these will be a back-to-back — Cal will visit Gainesville in 2026 and host Florida in Berkeley in 2027 — and the other staggered — Florida heads to Tempe in 2028 and hosts Arizona State in 2031 — per this report, but both fall into Florida’s established pattern under Scott Stricklin of looking for cool fan experiences as much or more than big-name teams. Florida has yet to announce these games, but has done most of its announcing of future scheduling plans on Fridays this year. (Adam Silverstein, Only Gators)

Chris Bleich transferring because of “family issues”: I’m not ignoring Florida having a starter (if a mostly nominal one) transfer in the middle of a game week; I have something for later this morning half-written. But it was handy to see this quote from Dan Mullen before hitting publish on the other post! (Robbie Andreu, The Gainesville Sun)

Florida doing much with not much: Don’t forget just how much injuries have racked this team. (David Wunderlich, Gator Country)

Recruiting mailbag: There seems to be some room for a possible flip of a former Florida State commit at a position of need. (Andrew Spivey, Gator Country)

There are way too many capital letters in this headline: I mean, not the author’s fault, but: Yuck. (UAA Communications)

Got a link, post, or video you think we should check out? Email us at AlligatorArmy@gmail.com, subject line CAB or Chomping at Bits, or find us on Twitter (@AlligatorArmy) or on Facebook at facebook.com/AlligatorArmy.

Around the CFB World Week 10

Georgia takes the lead in SEC after topping Florida

Headlines

1. Memphis, Memphis, Memphis, Memphis

The number of Group of Five undefeated teams is now zero. Although SMU arrived in Memphis with an impressive 8-0 record, they left with a 54-48 loss to the Tigers. Both teams were good through the air, with Brady White from Memphis and SMU’s Shane Buchele each throwing for over 350 yards and three touchdowns.

2. Dawgs on top.

It was a rough few weeks for Georgia, but a tough win against Florida propelled UGA to the top of the SEC East standings. Perhaps the only negative from the win is that Georgia should have scored more points seeing as how they went 12-18 on third downs.

3. Hangin around out west.

In a bit of a surprising twist, the Pac-12 has two potentially strong teams in Utah and Oregon. Both also picked up impressive road wins over the weekend. Oregon whooped USC 56-24 and outscored the Trojans 56 to 14 over the final three quarters. Utah had its own impressive win, defeating Washington 33-28, despite trailing midway through the third quarter.

Taillines

1. Little Red

It might be another year before Scott Frost gets things going at Nebraska. This week the Huskers dropped a 31-27 contest to Purdue. Despite taking a three point lead with under five minutes remaining, the Boilermakers went on an 82 yard drive, scoring the go ahead touchdown with just over a minute remaining in regulation.

2. Struggle in South Bend

Coming off an embarrassing loss to Michigan, Notre Dame still has some issues on offense, despite beating Virginia Tech 21-20. Virginia Tech led for most of the second half, until an Ian Book 7-yard TD run with twenty nine seconds left gave Notre Dame the lead.

3. Chopped

Miami-Florida State was a great rivalry, many years ago. In the latest installment, Miami went into Tallahassee and throttled the Noles 27-10. The loss was so bad that FSU opted to fire Willie Taggart not even two full seasons into his time as head coach.

Video Potpourri

Notes

  • The other Group of Five school to join the one loss category is Appalachian State, falling to Georgia Southern 24-21.
  • A team possibly sneaking up on folks: Navy. The Mids went to 7-1 after hammering UConn 56-10 and are percentage points ahead of Memphis as the first place team in the AAC west.
  • Auburn must have left some of its offense in Baton Rouge as the Tigers only squeaked by Ole Miss 20-14. The underlying numbers suggest a game that should have not been nearly as close, with Auburn winning the time of possession battle and posting nearly double the total yardage of the Rebels.
  • Boston College put up a 34 point second quarter in its 58-27 win over Syracuse.

THE COLUMN: Virginia vs. Georgia Tech Complete Preview

streakingthelawn.com should sponsor a bowl game

TIME: 12:30 PM (EST)

DATE: November 9th, 2019

LOCATION: Scott Stadium | Charlottesville, VA

HOW TO WATCH: ACCN


The Lowdown

After last week’s win, Virginia is now bowl eligible for a third straight season. Now fans can finally relax knowing that the Cavaliers can play in one of the many ridiculously named bowl games such as: the Walk-On’s Bistreaux and Bar Independence Bowl, the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl, and the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl. Personally, I’m bummed that Virginia can’t play in the Cheez-It Bowl, which undoubtedly is a solid addition to in the corporate-sponsored bowl game canon.

All jokes aside, consistent bowl game eligibility is not to be taken for granted. Despite away game struggles throughout the year, Virginia went toe-to-toe offensively North Carolina last year and walked away with a crucial win to keep the Cavaliers in the Coastal Division driver’s seat. The Hoos now enter a three game home stand, where they’ve been undefeated so far, to finish out the season.

This week, the 2-6 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets come to town. After long time head coach Paul Johnson retired last year, the Yellow Jackets find themselves in somewhat of a rebuilding season. They lost against The Citadel, an FCS team, in week 2 and have only one ACC win which came against Miami. On paper, Virginia has the upper hand in nearly every category and should be expected to win the game. Although, the unexpected is always possible and Virginia still needs to show offensive consistency and plug defensive gaps as it heads into the last three games of the season.


The Statistics

from Danny Neckel


Hoo’s Hoo?

Virginia Cavaliers

De’Vante Cross, S

While Virginia’s secondary has been a staple for the team’s defense, it has also been the unit most ravaged by injuries. Six defensive backs have been put on the IR this year: Antonio Clary, Bryce Hall, Darrius Bratton, Shawn Smith, Brenton Nelson and Germane Crowell. De’Vante Cross remains one of the starters on the team and despite his position switching over the years, he has solidified himself in the Hoos’ secondary.

Virginia Cavaliers

Zane Zandier, LB

ZZ Stop has been stellar for the Cavaliers all season. As anticipated, the third-year has stepped into a larger role this season. Zandier leads the team in tackles, with 66, and also has 4.5 sacks. He already has eclipsed his numbers in those categories from last year. While much of the attention goes to Jordan Mack, Zandier has established himself as just as much of an important defensive piece for the Hoos.

Virginia Cavaliers

Jowon Briggs, LB

Virginia’s four-star recruit is just getting going in his career. Last week, Briggs recorded his first sack of the season. The good news for Briggs is that Georgia Tech ranks 110th in sacks allowed, giving up 2.88 sacks a game. Hopefully the freshman can continue his positive trend and cause some havoc in the trenches. Regardless, Briggs’ development will be an interesting one to watch the rest of the year and on.


Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

James Graham, QB

Gone are the days of triple option offense for Georgia Tech, although, mobile quarterbacks still remain an integral part of the Yellow Jackets’ core. After competing with the other quarterbacks, redshirt freshman James Graham has emerged as the team’s main starter. So far, he’s thrown for 722 yards and six touchdowns (with four interceptions). He’s also rushed for 122 yards on 52 attempts.

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Jordan Mason, RB

The Yellow Jackets’ main running back is sophomore Jordan Mason. He has rushed for 622 yards and six touchdowns so far this season. Mason has also picked up the load in the last three games, notably rushing for 141 yards against Miami and 106 yards against Duke. The Yellow Jackets are still a run-reliant team so look for Mason to get plenty of touches against Virginia on Saturday.

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Tariq Carpenter, CB

The Yellow Jackets’ secondary is bright spot for the team this season. They rank 20th in the country, allowing only 187.9 passing yards per game. Junior defensive back Tariq Carpenter is one the leaders for Georgia Tech, who ranks third in the team in tackles. Alongside Juanyeh Thomas and Kaleb Oliver, the Yellow Jackets secondary could cause some trouble for Bryce Perkins.



#tbt


3 Things That Worry Me About Missouri

Florida v Missouri

Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

With no room for error in the SEC East race, no room for error clearly demonstrated in the CFP release no room for error from a team that only beat Florida thanks to clutch 3rd downs, no room for error with a banged up defense. And a Dooley on the field. What, me worry?

Here is what I’m NOT worried about for Saturday night’s matchup:

1) Truman – the official Missouri Tiger mascot. Have you seen this? I admit I’ve never paid it attention. Tony the Tiger wants to throw down his bowl of cereal and jackslap this thing, just on principle. I’m sure the cartoon-ish face is a big hit at the children’s hospital and for the youngsters attending MU athletic events. But is that what you want to get your fans hyped? Granted, we can’t all have live Bengal Tigers living on campus, but c’mon… put a little aggression in this costume. We have plenty of Tigers in the SEC, I just don’t count this as one of them.

2) Yeah, buddy! It’s Saturday night in Athens, and our ladies and gentlemen of the AV arts will once again set the stage for the most intimidating red-lit atmosphere in sports. I haven’t witnessed this in person, but between the official UGA videos, TV broadcasts, and some pretty cool social media, I know and you know that Georgia utilized the newfangled LED technology to the fullest, firstest, and bestest.

3) Turf Monsters. You know the kind – the ones that come up and trip a ball carrier for no discernible reason. And the Missouri Tigers have played on unnatural fields every single game this season. This will be their first test on the surface God intended… honest to goodness grass.

Other than the opener in Nashville, the Bulldogs are completely grass-fed. This won’t be a huge advantage, as the Dooley Field/Sanford Stadium grounds crew prove again and again they are some of the best in the business – the day-long deluge for Kentucky is evidence enough these guys/gals put out an excellent product. Still, Missouri won’t be quite as fast as they practice and play, and our boys should be able to plant that foot and get that route cut off sharper than the Tigers.

Now forgive me, as I was weaned at the nipple of Larry Munson’s scratch on AM radio, so here’s what I am worried about facing our fellow SEC Easters (even though they’re way west):

1) A repeat of last year. There were so many good things about that game. We block a punt and score a special teams touchdown; Tyson Campbell gets a defensive touchdown; Fromm goes 7-9 and almost 200 yards in the 2nd half; we had passing touchdowns of 33 yards, 54 yards, and 61 yards; we held future 1st round draft pick Drew Lock to a 23.5 QBR and no TDs. Individually those are great things, collectively they’re tremendous. So why do I have such a bad taste in my mouth?

Because Hot Rod missed a field goal and another was blocked, Fromm threw a pick, no touchdowns in the 1st half, we didn’t have a 100 yard rusher (Holyfield led with 90 yards), we gave up 4 rushing touchdowns… yet we won by 2 scores on the road against a divisional opponent. This was a signature “disappointing in the way we won” game that has happened too frequently since we became spoiled in the 2017 magical run.

I like nice things. Blowout wins with total game control and inflated stats are nice things. Why can’t we have nice things?

2) Derek Dooley. At some point he’s got to have some success in Athens, surely. Regression to the mean? Law of averages? There’s a phrase that encapsulates this, I’m just too lazy to figure it out. Anywhoo, we’ve owned Missouri since the series started (not counting the 1960 Orange Bowl), winning 6 of 7 and the last 5. However, we are Georgia, and we don’t let mediocre opponents get in the way of our losing… we just time it where it wrecks a season. You’d think the South Carolina game qualified as our annual Derpitudinal Equinox, but I’m not fully convinced.

We’re far more talented than Missouri, and much deeper. But it wasn’t so long ago that many pundits had Missouri coming into Athens undefeated, based on an easy first half of their schedule. The opening loss to Wyoming threw water on that plan, then the Tigers reeled off 5 wins in a row, including 2 SEC wins and a Power 5 OOC victory over West Virginia. Losses to lowly Vanderbilt and one-dimensional Kentucky the last two weeks kicked the dousing level up to 11, neither time gaining 300 yards of offense and being held to two scores or less in each game.

Is this the Missouri team that scored 34+ points in 5 straight wins? Does Son of Dooley figure out how to utilize the mobile Kelly Bryant and stud Tight End Albert Okwuegbunam (who caught 9 balls against us last year, and has 6 scores this year)? Can their 1-2 rushing punch of Larry Rountree and Tyler Badie get back on track and into the end zone against the Bulldogs?

3) The University of Georgia is 3rd in the nation in Red Zone conversion percentage, with 33 of 34 chances resulting in scores. Yet if you look at Red Zone touchdowns, we fall into a 10-way tie for 37th, punching it in only 24 times once we hit the opponents’ 20 yard line. As a percentage, we score a TD 70% of the time, which is only ranked 28th. How do we not get into the end zone more? We haven’t faced great defenses (ND, Florida, yeah kinda). We have multiple height mismatches with our receivers, we have speedy slot guys for the hot slant, we have stud running backs, and the largest offensive line ever known to mankind ever in the history of time ever.

Weirdly, Missouri has only defended the red zone 17 times, allow 9 TDs and 3 FGs. This is much more of a story about giving up a few big plays and facing middlin’ offenses. Likewise, we’re not hitting the big play that much, so in order for Georgia to beat the more stout competition coming up, we’re going to have to get healthy in the red zone or bust open some explosive plays. (Edit: I did like our 2 pt conversion last week – need more of that stuff). If we can’t punch it in against Missouri, Auburn sure isn’t going to let us waltz across that line.

Call me crazy, just don’t call me late for dinner. Sound off in the comments below what worries you about the 9th meeting between the Bulldogs of Georgia and the Tigers of Columbia.

And as always…

GO ‘DAWGS!!!

Ducks Rise to #9 in FanPulse Poll

Go Ducks!

The Ducks moved up two spots in the SB Nation FanPulse Poll to #9 after their beatdown of USC.

Only two PAC-12 teams were voted into the top 25: #8 Utah and #9 Oregon. The only team to beat Oregon thus far, the Auburn Tigers, are ranked #12. We’ll see if the Ducks get the opportunity to play the #1 Bayou Bengals this season should they meet in the playoff.

Now, the FanPulse poll covers basketball, too! Unfortunately they didn’t specify whether the question below is referring to the Men’s or Women’s basketball team, so we’ll have to assume that we are confident with both of our badass coaches.

And in non-Duck related news, the SB Nation sites were asked which game they were most excited for and they answered with a resounding “LSU @ Alabama”. Obviously if the Ducks were playing this poll would be different, especially since those SEC fans don’t care as much as us PAC-12 fans, but here ya go.


Nobody knows more than Duck fans! That’s why we need members to join the ranks.

Once you sign up (and make no mistake, you will sign up) you’ll set your preseason Top 25. Each week, you’ll get an email asking to update your picks and answer a question or two about the one and only Ducks

This data provides an easy way for ATQers and other communities to talk about rankings and sh*t-talk in general.

Again, the SIGN UP IS HERE to join the poll.

Do your part, head to the virtual voting booth!

Election Day Voting
Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets vs. Miami Hurricanes: A Statistical Preview

NCAA Football: Virginia Tech at Miami

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s hope this one doesn’t get ugly

The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets hit the road down to South Beach this weekend to take on the Miami Hurricanes and first-year head coach Manny Diaz. After some more improvement on offense for the Jackets last week against Duke, Geoff Collins and Co. are hoping to see some more improvement this weekend. Will it happen? The stats don’t look hopeful.

Georgia Tech Offense vs. Miami Defense


Well, this doesn’t look very promising. Miami’s defense has been a large highlight of the team this year. The one thing that Georgia Tech has been moderately successful at this season has been rushing the ball (43.19 percent success rate), and a lot of that is because of Jordan Mason. Miami just happens to have one of the top run-stuffing defenses in the country. The thing that really concerns me here are the stuff and havoc rates. Miami has been really good and stuffing the ball and causing havoc. Tech, on the other hand, has been really bad at preventing teams from doing that.

Georgia Tech Offensive Explosiveness vs. Miami Defense


Tech’s best chance at getting on the board is explosive plays, which unfortunately is not a sustainable offense, but I’ll attribute that to growing pains. One thing that has been nice to see has been seeing progression on offense, since they’re actually scoring now. James Graham has also been doing a little better each game, and he’ll face a tough test this week and will probably be running for his life the whole game. Despite that, if Tech wants to win, they’ll need to find success on first and second down, which will not be easy against this defense.

Georgia Tech Defense vs. Miami Offense


Georgia Tech will have a bit of an easier time here. Miami’s offense is still trying to find itself, though not as much as Georgia Tech is. Something interesting to keep an eye on here is that Miami recently switched to N’Kosi Perry at quarterback, replacing Jarren Williams. The switch first happened during the Hurricanes’ game against Virginia Tech, which saw Williams throw three interceptions in just seven passes. To win this game, Tech is going to need to do something they haven’t been good at: causing havoc.

Georgia Tech Defense vs. Miami Offensive Explosiveness


One thing that bodes really well here for Tech is the down-by-down success rate. Georgia Tech is really good with success rate on first down, but what stands out to me is how bad Miami is on third downs. If Tech can force third downs, it’ll definitely help them somehow pull out a victory.

Conclusion

This game has a very good chance of not ending well for Georgia Tech. I’m trying to stay optimistic, and if I’m being honest, I don’t know that Miami is quite as good as the stats indicate. I think the defense is legit, but the offense still has a lot of question marks. The Yellow Jackets will need to find a way to score, which will be the hardest thing to do in this game. I think Miami’s offense is a good match-up for Tech’s defense, but I’m not sure about the opposite.

How do you see this weekend’s game going?