With the most recent slate of games on the SEC docket, the character of teams are beginning to slide into focus. As suspected, Florida and Alabama are the juggernauts of their divisions. What is surprising, however, is how consistently the other teams are falling into their stereotypes. In fact, only three teams right now appear to be on the verge of breaking out of their molds and finding improvements that have been lacking over the years - the three teams with new coaches. But more on that after the jump. First, the poll:
- Florida Gators
- Alabama Crimson Tide
- LSU Tigers
- Auburn Tigers
- South Carolina Gamecocks
- Georgia Bulldogs
- Tennessee Volunteers
- Mississippi Rebels
- Mississippi State Bulldogs
- Vanderbilt Commodores
- Kentucky Wildcats
- Arkansas Razorbacks
The ranking is derived straight from the RTT computer ballot for the College BlogPoll. Here are the SEC-specific numbers:
For convenience, I have highlighted the best and worst numbers in each statistical category (except W/L). Here's a basic rundown of the categories and methodology. Weight are unchanged from last week. Here are the final results in a more convenient graphical form. Note that the baseline is -60, not zero.
Florida and Alabama are in a league of their own, but from their on out, things are a little closer. Only Kentucky and Arkansas score below NCAA average, though Kentucky is really close.
They Are Who We Thought They Were
Teams with the most extroardinary likeness to their preseason predicitons are:
- Florida, who has a tenacious defense and a Tebow-all-the-time offense without Percy Harvin. Looking past the seriousness of Tim Tebow's injury for a second, at least having John Brantley will give something new to watch.
- Alabama is their usual defense first boa constrictor of a team who is content to squeeze the air out of you and wait until you quit struggling. Very effective.
- LSU has an extraodrinarily typical Chavis defense: strong everywhere but third downs (quit laughing; it's true - look at 3DD above, which stands for 3rd Down Defense). Otherwise, their offense largely picks up from last year. LSU fans need to understand that Chavis is not the problem on the team at the moment.
- South Carolina is shaping up to be a defense-first team with a bad passing game - just like last year. Garcia is better, but not to the levels they had hoped for.
- Georgia is, for the jillionth time in a row, a solid offensive team with an undewhelming defense. Hopefully, though, the defense comes together after the UT game to help Willie keep his job. I like him there.
- Tennessee has the Monte defense we dreamed of. Seeing as the Kiffins are going nowhere soon (and likely not Orgeron either), this will stay the same for a long time. However, they are significantly better than average on third down. I'll stop there.
- Mississippi should rename themselves from the Rebels to the Paper Tigers.
- Mississippi State may be the most interesting team in the SEC to watch, simply because of the novelty. If UT's loss to Florida was a moral victory, MSU's loss to LSU has to be considered one as well.
- Vanderbilt is in trouble of another 3 or 4 win season. They have the worst passing attack in the league (quit snickering, Vols fans, and look at the numbers). They have a long road ahead.
- Kentucky has improved on talent, but they're afraid of what they can become. The first quarter against Florida was a team that wasn't ready to handle success; if they don't fix that mentality, they'll never clear the hurdle in the East.
- Arkansas is a Petrino team: offense first, offense only. We should have seen this coming. The problem is that offense is less consistent and more prone to letdown than defense; offense is also more sensitive to injuries affecting performance. This team, having already had a bye week, is in serious trouble for the rest of the season unless a miracle happens in the defense. But hey, Mallet.
Ok, so I listed every SEC team as typical. That's because they are. The only three with obvious differences are Auburn (offense, yay!), MSU (more offense, yay!), and Tennessee (3rd and stopped). After some wild early games, the defenses are settling down and slowly getting a handle on things. (Preview: The SEC has the best defensive metric in the league by a healthy margin.)