Thursday has come, and that can only mean one thing: It's time for the Your Best 11 Mailbag. We've got plenty of questions to answer, a couple about a very interesting topic out at USC, plus some real live football questions. You know we always love those!
@inthebleachers who will be Alabama's toughest opponent for one game from here on: UGA in SEC CG, or potentially K-St, Oregon or ND in BCS??— Stuart D. Davis (@stu623) November 8, 2012
If everything holds true to form, I think I'd have to pick Georgia. The Dawgs aren't "better" than Oregon, but I think they're a better matchup against Alabama. They have a quarterback who's capable through the air, a run game that's built on going straight at opponents and a defense that, since being called out by their own, is down to get into a few fist fights.
I'm not as high on Kansas State against the Tide as some, so if the deck got reshuffled I think that Notre Dame would be the matchup I'd pick as the potential for the toughest. The Irish have a defense that will stand up to the mauling offensive approach of the Tide. They have Everett Golson at quarterback, who has finally shown that he's comfortable doing it with his arm and legs, and they've got a difference-maker at the tight end spot that could put Alabama in a bind.
I've said all along that long-term Texas A&M was in better shape than Mizzou when it came to this transition. Now, it's clear that in the short term, they're better off, too. Texas A&M better be looking for Kliff Kingsbury replacements, because odds are he's not there long. However, to answer the question:
I think they'll be fine if they can keep the offense producing and continue to raise the level of play for their defense. Next year's defense is going to be have their hands full, losing players at every level, and that's going to be a problem where stops are concerned next year.
Tough to imagine them winning an SEC title in the next few seasons, but finishing ahead of Auburn, Arkansas, Mississippi State and Ole Miss in that same time period is not a reach. The big thing for A&M is going to be unseating LSU and Alabama, and that's going to take more than just a middle-of-the-pack defense.
From Greg B:
I have never heard of it really. It makes the football easier to catch, for sure. Surprised more people haven't tried it haha.
Yeah, I'm a Kiffin guy, and while this stuff all seems trivial to me, a lot of "let's see what we can get away with" type actions, folks are using it to further their anti-Kiffin cause. He's making things harder on himself, and by dropping the game to Arizona, taking a team many thought could win a title to a three-loss record entering November isn't a good thing. If they're looking for a way to dump him, the mini-controversies and the trivial crap that keeps happening is certainly a way to do it.
@inthebleachers Will Monte ground Lane after Lane fires him?— NDEddieMac (@NDEddieMac) November 8, 2012
Haha, probably not. I love this question, though, because it hits on the actual real problem at USC, the defense. It's great to finger-point at Lane Kiffin and talk about the small issues that he's had, but ultimately this team has a gigantic problem that's contributed to their three-loss record; the defense.
They're terrible on defense. We thought they were built to stop speed, then Arizona and Oregon happened. We knew going into Stanford they weren't built to stop power, and they still have Notre Dame on the schedule.
If you can't stop speed or power, then you're not really stopping much. Monte Kiffin has got to go. Lane is giving his dad some of the nation's top defensive talent and they just aren't getting it done. They need a new face and a new approach to defense, and that's a trigger that Lane has to pull to help get this team better in the future.
That's a double-edged sword. Sure, getting more possessions per game because you're scoring in a hurry is nice, but if you're defense sucks, that also means they're out there on the field more. Part of the anger at Auburn from Gene Chizik working with Gus Malzahn was their already bad defense being exposed more frequently due to Malzahn pushing the pace.
So while it's great that you get to score more, keep in mind that your bad defense is also on the field more. A bad defense plus tired legs from playing more snaps is a recipe for a shootout. If my defense sucked, I'd want to hold the ball for a long period of time—unfortunately with tempo-based offenses, that's not an option.
Who knows? Honestly, at this point, who cares? Duke and Miami have their eyes on being in the winner's circle, and because they play over Thanksgiving weekend, that game will likely decide the division, so long as Duke doesn't lose to Georgia Tech—which can happen. Basically, Miami is in the driver's seat, Duke controls their own destiny and we'll see how that madness shakes out.
@inthebleachers auburn private securityfirm monitoring curfew - obviously did wonders for them. How does that impact recruiting? Does it?— Danny V (@fiveboroball) November 8, 2012
If you haven't heard, the Auburn Tigers hired a private security firm to curfew check their players, including those who live off campus. I really don't know if it worked out for them or not—they hired the group following a drinking arrest for a player this summer, so it was after the other incidents.
What I do know is this sucks. From a player's perspective, I cannot imagine having a curfew during the week. That sounds miserable. Not sure how you can go to parties, bars or any of those things when you have to be home for a certain time. I'd hate it. What if a player has a girlfriend? Does her house count as being "in for the night" with the curfew check? Just ugh.
Anyways, expect that this will most certainly be used as a negative recruiting tool. While Auburn can spin it as a safety precaution being taken to help their players out, other coaches are talking about two things. One is the need for private security, coupled with other events, proves that Auburn is not a safe place to send your kid. The other is playing football at Auburn is like being in jail. They're always watching you, won't let you enjoy college and the like.
Depending upon the target and/or the target's parents, one of those sells might resonate, and SEC coaches—guys who understand how big recruiting is—will dial into which sell to use, and they will work that angle just fine.