The most amazing thing about our football team right now is that I can make it through this entire column without mentioning our most famous player by name. I say he's the most “famous” because it's not at all clear that he's the most valuable on any given Saturday. Sure, we need a distributor, and we've got a dandy, but our ball carriers are pretty good in their own right. A lot of what accounts for all that passing yardage happens after the catch. And once our run blocking comes together, we have some real beasts who will be capable of quite a bit without ever leaving the ground.
Petrino's system helps. More often than not, 10 or more of our players get their hands on the ball. Each week, another steps up with his finest performance of the season. Every winning effort has its own shining example of our talent and depth on offense. Joe Adams was especially dynamic against the Aggies. Michael Smith lit Auburn up for 145 yards. Ronnie Wingo Jr. blew up versus Troy. Against South Carolina, D.J. Williams reappeared in a big way with seven receptions. Last week, Cobi Hamilton only needed three chances to go for 131 yards and two touchdowns.
You catch my drift: Not all of this happens under center. If you drop a penny in the Razorback well, you best sit and stay a while. It'll be a long time before it hits bottom.
I have a friend who's a Bulldog fan, and in the midst of my pre-game smack-talk, I had to stop short while rattling off our “Names You Should Know.” My boasts were getting out of hand. I started to feel sorry for the guy. MSU's where we were last year. Lots of promise. An energized fanbase. A poorly-tapped recruiting trail. And a brilliant offensive mind at the helm. Next year's game will be a little more exciting to anyone not holding on for dear life, especially if our defense stays this bad.
When LSU won the National Championship in 2007, I counted it a blessing. Don't get me wrong: I have nothing but ill will for the Tigers. I just figured on having Les Miles as our guaranteed whipping boy for the next few years. Now, it seems like he won't last all that long. If we get the better of him this week in Baton Rouge, his seat's going to warm up right quick. The man sure didn't look to be worth that $4 million in the waning seconds of the Ole Miss game. Miles has found himself in tight spots before, just most of the time he's ended up on the right side of fate. He couldn't even lie his way out of last week's debacle.
The Tiger offense doesn't have much of an identity, generally leaning on whatever works. The talent is there. Brandon LaFell is the same elite wideout he's always been, only now Terrance Toliver's drawing lots of attention away from his side of the field. Charles Scott had regressed a bit before going down for the season, but he was just one in a backfield full of quintessential SEC bruisers who can wear us down in the trenches. Jordan Jefferson's coming on slowly, but he's coming along sure enough.
John Chavis has been inconsistent in his first year as the Tiger coordinator, but most of the time he gives his offense room enough to get it done. Patrick Peterson's a dangerous defender, probably the best pure cover man in the SEC. Right now, all that's standing between us and a trip to the Cotton Bowl is an ability to score against a top defense. LSU's our first opportunity to prove ourselves since Florida. It would have been nice to do it on a Friday.
PS: The 2010 schedule was revealed last week. Two warm-up noncons to start off. Vandy's back. Our off-week's at a more sane time. Alabama, Ole Miss and LSU at home. Looks to me like a recipe for the SEC championship.