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Story Archives: Positive press...
LSU players apparently read their press clippings before the Georgia Tech game, but this time in a positive way.
The offensive line performed as the best in the SEC in the 38-3 win over the Yellowjackets, the defensive line was dominant and the wide receivers were wide open.
And, yes, I realize a competent quarterback had a lot to do with all of that. There is no doubt the receivers, offensive line and defensive line were playing at a more confident level knowing they had a quarterback who was going to deliver.
It kind of gives you an idea of what it could have been like with Ryan Perrilloux.
Les Miles went back to his riverboat gambling ways, even though I thought the fake punt in the fourth quarter was too much. You want fans of other SEC teams to hate you because you win all the time, not because you like to rub salt in the wound like Steve Spurrier did at Florida.
I don't have a problem with the late long passes. I think Miles is trying to impress a couple of wide receiver recruits.
And I realize Georgia Tech did not play well and LSU could put everybody on the line because this time the other team had a quarterback who couldn't throw it in the ocean.
Getting back to the performance of Jordan Jefferson (that little left-handed flip pass should be all over the highlight reels). Miles said Jefferson did not enroll until August and was behind early.
Well, guess what? Jarrett Lee had been there for two years, went through the entire spring and summer practices, and was still incompetent.
Miles should have done a better job of getting Jefferson more playing time early and when it became evident Lee could not get the job done, make the change.
Looking ahead to next year, there is going to be quite a battle for quarterback between Jefferson and incoming freshman Russell Sheppard, but there is nothing wrong in having two outstanding quarterbacks (and don't discount Chris Garrett from Tupelo although he has redshirt written all over him). In the SEC, a running quarterback is going to take some hits and get banged up.
I hope Miles gets Sheppard as much playing time as possible early next season.
I'm excited about the defense with John Chavis coming in as coordinator even though the whole front line is being rebuilt. There are some young and hungry linemen ready to cut their teeth on the SEC and fully capable of taking on top teams.
The linebacking corps and secondary will be much better and will benefit from Chavis' expertise.
The SEC will once again be strong in 2009. Lane Kiffin will get Tennessee back on track with his dad, Monte, being a valuable asset. Ed Orgeron will bring some outstanding talent to Vol land.
The Vol defense is led by cornerback Eric Berry. As a true freshman in 2007, Berry made his first appearance at nickleback against California before being named as starting safety in the following game against Southern Miss.
Since then he has started every single game of his college career at strong safety.
Berry was named the SEC Freshmen Defensive Player of the Year and was a unanimous Freshmen All-American. He is the current SEC Defensive Player of the Year and a 2008 Consensus first Team All-America.
I talked with Berry earlier in the year and was hoping to get in touch with his father, James Berry, who played high school football for North Natchez High before going on to Tennessee, where he would serve as captain his senior year and caught a touchdown pass in the 1979 Bluebonnet Bowl.
James Berry suffered a knee injury, which kept a good collegiate career from being a great one.
I never was able to talk with James, but Eric told me, "My father has been a big influence on me. I didn't get to see him too much when I was younger because he was always working and I had to be at football practice. He had the night shift. But when we had time together he would prepare me for what was ahead."
James Berry was unbelievable at North Natchez back in the mid-1970s, as good a running back in this area that I have seen.
"I would hear a lot about him from his former high school teammates and from people around the city," Eric said. "They say he was amazing."
Back to the current SEC, I'm not too upset about LSU missing out on Orgeron, because I believe for all the good you get, there are some negatives with Orgeron.
And I still believe he persuaded Joe McKnight to pick Southern Cal over LSU.
McKnight will be a Matt Cassel to a smaller degree. I believe he could have taken over in the wildcat position for LSU this past season and gotten a lot of touches.
He certainly is a lot better than getting 89 rushes for 675 yards and catching 21 passes for 193 yards.
And who noticed except on the West Coast.
Cassel spent his entire career at USC as a backup behind Heisman Trophy winners Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart. During his four seasons at USC, Cassel completed 19 of 33 passes for 192 yards, with no touchdowns and one interception.
He was apparently destined to do the same with the New England Patriots until Tom Brady got hurt and Cassel led the Patriots back to the playoffs this season with an outstanding year.
It will be interesting to see the preseason predictions concerning the conference. I believe most will have Alabama winning the West, with LSU second and possibly Ole Miss third, although the Rebels will certainly earn higher votes. Ole Miss' win over Texas Tech in the Cotton Bowl was the most impressive win for the SEC, and the most important. Anyone thinking the conference has slipped a lot need only look at that contest.
Who knows what to expect from Arkansas and Auburn next year, they could be the surprise teams of next season?
Depending on Tim Tebow's decision, Florida will likely be the pick in the East, with Georgia and Tennessee close behind. Who knows what to expect from South Carolina, Vanderbilt and Kentucky.
One thing I'm certain about. - next season you won't hear a lot of talk about the SEC being down. The other conferences better enjoy this past year while they can.