Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Diagnosing the SEC
By Edward Aschoff
Well, after three weeks of football, we know that the SEC isn't perfect. Crazy to think, I know.
So what's ailing the SEC? Well ...
Even Alabama's vaunted defense is getting gassed and gashed by fast-paced offenses.
No defenses: It felt weird typing that, and I'm sure it felt even weirder reading that. But alas, the SEC has had trouble with its defenses. Heading into the weekend, the SEC has only four teams that rank in the top 40 nationally in total defense -- Florida (No. 3), Arkansas (No. 6), LSU (No. 10) and Ole Miss (No. 35). Notice you won't find Alabama on that list. Yes, the team that ranked No. 1 in total defense for the past two years and in the top five for five straight years sits at No. 86 nationally after giving up a school-worst 628 yards to Texas A&M last week. So the league known for stopping points from going on the scoreboard has six teams allowing more than 25 points per game.
What's the cure?
Amp up the early-morning conditioning: With all these teams trying to run some sort of up-tempo offense, SEC defenses are sweating. We're talking Jadeveon Clowney, hands on his hips sweating (and panting). The fast-paced offense has become so popular that even Nick Saban's Crimson Tide ran a little of it against the Aggies. Some teams are very inexperienced (see Georgia and Texas A&M), but it really does look like teams just need their defensive players to get into better shape. Even teams such as Alabama and Vanderbilt (534 yards allowed per SEC game), which both brought back good experience, have underperformed. It can be tough this time of year with class and games, but there's time during the week to have a couple of extra sprints. My advice is to do it earlier in the morning. It boosts metabolism and can actually make people more energized throughout the day! Obviously, with games being every Saturday, the extra conditioning should be done Monday through Wednesday. That will give players an easier Thursday practice and you might as well scrap the Friday walk-throughs. You can't risk any sort of physical activity that might cause players to break any sort of sweat. This will help with endurance, and defensive players clearly need that this year. Also, load up on the water and Gatorade. I can't stress enough just how important it is for these guys to stay properly hydrated. Oh, and how about no more cross-country trips? I'm looking at you, Tennessee.