Showdown for the SEC Western Title
It is just three weeks into the college football season, but one of the most important games of the 2006 season will occur this coming Saturday when the LSU Tigers face the Auburn Tigers.I can’t remember this much buzz about a regular season game since the Tigers faced off against the Georgia Bulldogs in Tiger Stadium in 2003, their national championship season.
To show how important this game is, just remember that the winner of this game has won the Southeast Conference Western division title five out of the last six years.
Think about the fact that over the past six years these two teams have produced 67 players currently in the NFL today.
Auburn has won 18 out of the last 19 SEC games played and while I selected them to play Ohio State for the 2006 BCS championship in the summer, and I have also been very impressed with the Tigers from Auburn, I have also been very impressed with the Tigers from Baton Rouge. In particular, quarterback JaMarcus Russell and the best front nine group of defensive linemen assembled by the Tigers in my 21 years of college scouting.
Russell has matured into the best quarterback in the SEC and in my opinion one of the top four quarterbacks in the nation. For all the talk about the quarterback showdown between Russell, Matt Flynn and former East St. John High School standout Ryan Perrilloux, for the starting job it has been a no contest battle. Russell is the clearcut winner and he will get only better, barring injury.
Defensively, Ama’s own LaRon Landry has been nothing short of sensational, but we all expected that from the best free safety in college football. What has been great to watch is the young group of defensive linemen, Chase Pittman, Marlon Favorite, Tyson Jackson, Charles Alexander, future All-American Glenn Dorsey, Al Woods, Ricky Jean-Francois, Ryan Willis and Rahim Alem mature into a top-flight unit.
Those young men have not given up a touchdown this season and, matter of fact, the Tigers have not given up a touchdown since the SEC Championship game against Georgia.
Miami (Fla.), UL-Lafayette and Arizona have all found out just how good this Tiger defense really is.
This showdown will be one not to miss.
What a start for Payton & Company
I will be the first to say it, I was pleasantly surprised at the 19-14 victory by the New Orleans Saints over the Cleveland Browns. The win was impressive, but even more impressive than the “W” on the board was the effort, the gameplan and the all-out desire played by the boys in black and gold.
Offensively the Saints had to settle for four John Carney field goals instead of touchdowns early on in the contest, but the team consistently won the battle in the trenches and controlled the tempo of the game by Drew Brees hitting on quick, short passes and running backs Reggie Bush and Deuce McAllister wearing down the Browns defensive front.
If anyone questioned just how good Reggie Bush would be in the NFL, they don’t have those questions today. This young man showed great poise, good inside running skills and the quickness to consistently make the first man miss.
Defensively the Saints defense was aggressive and they constantly harassed Browns quarterback Charlie Frye. Linebacker Scott Fujita, defensive ends Will Smith and Charles Grant, defensive tackles Hollis Thomas and Brian Young, along with safety Josh Bullocks were defensive “playmakers” and when the chips were down late, they come through in a big manner.
It is just one game and there is still plenty of work to be done for this team to get back to being a playoff contender, but I really like early on what I see from Sean Payton and his staff.
This team just could make Sundays, fun days again…