Hold That ‘Tigah’

Wow, a pic of Coach O smiling!

Ever since Les Miles was fired from LSU after starting his 2016 season 2-2 with losses to Wisconsin and Auburn, Ed Orgeron has been the ring leader in Louisiana. When LSU announced that Ed Orgeron was stepping in as the interim head coach, I thought to myself that it would strictly be a temporary job for him through the rest of the season. Coach O’s record from when he was the Head Coach at Ole Miss was less than pleasing. During his 2005-07 seasons he only found 2 wins against above 500 teams and ended with a record of 10-25. He was let go in 2007. He seemed to be a big fan of Lane Kiffin. After just one season with the Saints as their Defensive Line coach, Orgeron followed Kiffin to Tennessee to do basically the same job that he was doing in the NFL. When Kiffin left to go back to USC in 2009  to be their head coach (after Pete Carroll left in tto become the head coach of the Seattle Seahawks), Orgeron followed him there as well. In 2013, Lane Kiffin was released by USC and Clay Helton stepped in as interim head coach. After this announcement, due to his expectation that USC would make him the interim head coach and then was overlooked, left USC. In 2015, Les Miles added Coach O to his coaching staff at LSU, making him his defensive line coach. This landed him the interim job when Coach Miles was let go in 2016. After this decision by LSU’s athletic department, Coach O lead  this team to finish the last 8 games of the season at 6-2;  along with a bowl win against #15 Louisville in the Citrus Bowl. Things were going unexpectedly well. At the end of the season, Ed Orgeron had proved to Joe Avella,LSU’s athletic director, that he deserved a shot at the head coaching position. The fan base was more than excited to have Coach O calling the shots down in Death Valley. Ever since he took the spot light at LSU, people all around the country have fallen in love with his hilarious rajun cajun personality, his coaching philosophy, and his ability to win big games. With all the excitement around Louisiana after the hiring of Coach O, there was also a lot of high expectations hanging over his head.

I tend to forget the history of good coaches that have been at LSU before Les Miles. I forget that Nick Saban won a national championship at LSU. I mean, heck, I even forgot that Nick Saban coached there before going to Miami to coach the Dolphins. Not to exclude Pat Dietzel, who made the program one of the best in history until Saban arrived on campus. Some people say he’s the Nick Saban of the 1960’s but I don’t know if I would go that far. He did win a national title and two SEC titles as well as posting the only perfect season in LSU history. Cool stats. Also, Charles McClendon was at LSU for 18 seasons and consistently produced solid teams but they never achieved what was expected. When Nick Saban took over the program in November of 1999, he had some cleaning up to do. In just his 4th season with LSU, he won a National Championship.

All that to say, Ed Orgeron has a lot to live up for this football program and so far he’s doing heck of a job. In his first season as head coach  in 2017 , he found 9 wins. His key wins that season included #21 Florida and #10 Auburn. He had a few bad loses that include a 21-24 loss to Troy which knocked them out of the AP Top 25 until they beat Auburn later on in the season. They finished that season at 9-4 and as the #18 team in the country. This season, The Tigers are 6-1 and will be welcoming #1 Alabama after their bye week on November 3rd. LSU is known for being hard to beat in night games inside Death Valley. Alabama leads this rivalry 52–25–5. This will perhaps be Coach O’s biggest test. I am a firm believer that anyone who can recruit Dwayne The Rock Johnson to play for them can do anything, including beat Tua and The Tide on November 3rd in Death Valley. Let’s hope that next Saturday is a “great day in Tiger football, and a great day in Coach O’s life.”

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Just Another Game

Since the start of the playoffs, no one really cares what bowl you go to if it is not selected as one of the four College Football Playoff games. I mean, honestly, who cares that you won the Gator Bowl in 2016. Bowl games don’t mean anything -unless a win takes you to the natty. Yes, it gives the team an opportunity to play one more game together, you play at a cool venue against a team outside of your conference, and it gives the fans one last thing to cheer for before they go through a 9 month college football fast. But at the end of the day, bowl games don’t mean squat. Conference championships? Important. But as far as bowl games go, I don’t think that it’s anything more than just another game to play. Unless you’re Kentucky and decide that even a bowl loss deserves a ring, but that’s none of my business.

For the past few years, a few top draft prospects have been deciding to forgo playing their bowl games with their teams. Is this a wise decision? Selfish? Smart? There are some good arguments for and against the decisions made by these athletes and their agents. The Nick Bosa situation seems to be sitting on the tips of the tongues of sports analysts at the moment. Should he be sitting out for the rest of the season? Should he stay with his team and support them? Will NFL scouts take their attention elsewhere because he’s not on the field right now? Will General Managers of NFL teams question Bosa’s loyalty? (I promise you, if you can help them win, they want you on their team. They don’t really care if you played your bowl game or not.)

In all honesty, I think the Nick Bosa situation is no different than Leonard Fournette’s and Christian Mccaffrey’s situation back in 2016. When running back Leonard Fournette was at LSU, Coach Orgeron suggested that he sit out of the bowl game. He was a top 5 draft prospect and no one wanted to risk an injury that would hurt his draft stock. This brought up a lot of controversy, especially with LSU fans. The feelings of betrayal and bitterness surrounded Louisiana and their beloved Tigers. Les Miles had just been ‘fired’ and Ed Orgeron had been given the responsibility of getting the Tigers through the rest of the season. With the loss of Miles and Fournette, they looked to Derrius Guice to lead the team to a bowl victory and did he ever. LSU ran past Louisville with a final score of 29-9. Guice gave the NFL scouts a show coming in at 26 carries for 136 yards and 1 touchdown. In the end, LSU did not NEED Leonard Fournette to help them beat Louisville in the Citrus Bowl in 2016.  LSU won their bowl game and Fournette ended up being the 4th overall draft pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Christian Mccaffrey’s situation was basically the same. He decided to sit out his bowl game in order to avoid injury and Stanford had no problem finding a win against  North Carolina in the Sun Bowl. Obviously, this did not hurt his draft stock either.

I understand why ESPN college football analyst, David Pollack, would argue that Nick Bosa is making the wrong decision. Pollack, who won the Lombardi at Georgia, loved playing college football. Yes, he was good enough to play in the NFL; in fact, he was a first round draft pick in 2005. During his first year of playing for the Bengals, he became an All American. Sadly, during the second game of his second season, Pollack suffered a career ending neck injury. Most of his football memories were made in college. He loved playing football at Georgia. He suffered an injury during his junior year of college and came back to play his senior year because of the responsibility he felt towards his team. Wow, what a good guy. This was a personal decision and made because of his love for his school, his coach, and his team. He was living his dream.

Some athletes grew up dreaming about playing for their favorite college and some grew up with the dreams of playing in the NFL. What Fournette, Mccaffrey, and Bosa all have in common is the fact that they all have dreamed of playing in the NFL. Of course, they loved their college coach, team, and fans, but these guys want to play football for a living. There should be nothing that holds them back. If that means sitting out a bowl game, then by all means, they should be allowed to do that with no backlash from fans or teammates. If they feel a responsibility to their team to play in the bowl game? Then they should be able to play in the bowl game with their team for the last time. They should not feel pressure or guilt from the media and fans due to the fact that they are making the best decision for their families and career. If the team is relying solely on these players to help them win games then that should be a red flag and a sign that they need to be making some other adjustments. Bosa has been hurt twice in his career at Ohio State. His decision is the right decision. He wants to make a living playing football without risking a possible career ending injury during his last few games in college. It would be better for him to suffer an injury his first game in the NFL and be a multi million dollar injured football player than to be a injured, broke college football player who almost made it to the NFL.

So what do you think? Should the fans and media be able to have a say in whether or not they think a player should finish out the season with their team depending on them?

Dixieland Delight

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For the past 11 years, the Third Saturday in October has ended in either heartbreak or embarrassment for the Vols. I have to say that whenever I have sat down to watch the Tide play this season, I find myself having to manually close my own mouth because my jaw is always dropping wide open. Alabama has consistently had a great football team for the past decade but I’ve never seen anything like this team. Growing up an avid Tennessee fan, I almost feel guilty for being so enthralled with this Alabama team. Am I annoyed that Bama keeps winning? Yes, very much so. Am I bored watching them play? Absolutely not. Recently I have overheard multiple college football fans talk about how easy it would be to recruit in Tuscaloosa and how terrible Saban is at recruiting. Really? Under Saban, Alabama is 127-20. He’s won over 85% of the games he has coached in during the past 11 years. He has led his team to win 10 of his 14 bowl game appearances. He has 5 SEC championships and 5 National Championships. Sure, sign me up. I’ll play for him. Maybe he’s a terrible people person but do recruits care about that? Nope. He wins football games. Who cares what kind of personality he has? Not to mention the coaches that have coached under or with Saban and have turned into excellent head coaches themselves; Mark Dantonio (MSU), Bobby Williams (Oregon), JimBo Fisher (Texas A&M), Jim McElwain (Gamecocks), Kirby Smart (Georgia) Jeremy Pruitt (Tennessee), and Lane Kiffin (FAU). They seemed to have learned a couple of things from him I’d say. Nick Saban has made Alabama the face of college football. The one thing that other college football fans can not stand about the program are their bias fans. Other than that, they secretly admire the program and what Saban has done for college football, even if they don’t admit it.

All of that to say, this season, Alabama has scored on the first drive in every single game (and most of those were during the first or second play). So, what is it going to take for Tennessee to beat the Tide in Knoxville this weekend? Keep Tua off the field. Keep Alabama’s defense on the field. Guarantano and Tua are almost equal in terms of passing – each have thrown about 120 times and completed around 80 of those passes. Guarantano has thrown for 6 TD’s with 2 interceptions and roughly 1,100 yards. Tua, on the other hand, in 6 games, he has thrown for almost 1,700 yards, 21 throwing TD’s and 6 rushing TD’s. The Vols are going to have to figure out how to generate turnovers and then they MUST capitalize points on those turnovers in order to make up for the damage that Tua will be doing to the Volunteer’s defense.

With the expectation of Tua being active this week, after his knee sprain against Missouri last Saturday, the Vols are going to have to put pressure on him and win at the line of scrimmage. If they give Tua enough time in the pocket, we all know how the game will end. Load the box and bring the house. I guess it helps that Pruitt coached against Tua during practice last year and has some inside knowledge about how to prepare his defense for Saturday.

On defense, Alabama has a pretty thin secondary. If they win the line of scrimmage on the defensive side of the ball, the Vols will have no way to generate yards on the ground and Guarantano will not have time to get the ball down the field to his receivers. The Vols have to limit Alabama’s opportunities to blitz. That means keeping the ball on their side as long as they can during each drive and avoiding third and long.

Odds are, Alabama is not going to surprise anyone by not showing up in Neyland on Saturday. Knoxville is going to have to show up to cheer their Vols on Saturday and they will need to play a perfect game. If the Vols don’t get it done this week, LSU is hosting the Tide the first week of November. Both teams will be coming off of a bye week and the SEC Championship representative from the west will most likely be decided. Death Valley is scary place to play and Ed Orgeron is coming off of a solid win in which his Tigers embarrassed and exposed #2 Georgia. (‘Go Tigers’ – *Ed Orgeron voice*) Only time will tell if Alabama will be beat this year, but if they get past these two teams, we will most likely be watching them play over the New Year’s holiday.

It’s 4th and K8 – you make the call – what topics do you want to discuss?

 

cropped-576764012.jpgHello! I’m Catelynn Larkins and this is my personal blog about my favorite hobby- SEC Football! I am excited to share my thoughts and ‘opinions’ as well as discuss topics related to college football with my readers!  Please feel free to leave me comments, ask me questions, and send me discussion topics! I would love to hear from you! Thank you for the support!

“It was a lot more fun hanging around in the SEC than it was the other league I was in a couple of years ago” – Steve Spurrier