December 8, 2005

The Burning Questions

Welcome to a new feature on Rivals.com, The Burning Questions. Each week, we'll ask the biggest questions in college sports and look to experts from all over the Rivals.com network for the answers.

With the coneference title games behind us and the bowls fast approaching, we stick to college football this time around and give you this week's Burning Questions:

What happened to LSU in the SEC title game?
From Michael Scarborough of TigerBait.com: The most commonly held reason for LSU's lackluster performance in the SEC Championship game is lack of gas in the tank due to playing 11 consecutive games without an open date due to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. I believe there is some validity to that, but I'm not ready to say that is the major reason.

Certainly even if there was some mental or physical exhaustion, the Tigers would have come out at least for a quarter and performed to a certain level just on adrenaline alone. After all, other than playing for the BCS National Championship there isn't a more exciting game in the Southeastern Conference to be involved in.

LSU's offensive line did not perform well and it absolutely had to in order for LSU to have any success on Saturday.

Once Georgia jumped out to a two-touchdown lead, the Bulldogs defense could stack everyone in the box and make JaMarcus Russell beat them. The running game was not going to click at that point, and Russell made a few nice throws but he would have to have had the best performance of his career to get the Tigers back into the game.

The bottom line was an apparent lack of desire, poor preparation, and Les Miles and staff being outcoached by Mark Richt and his coaches in every facet of the game.

Where is Tim Tebow going to go to school?
From Mike Farrell, Rivals.com national recruiting analyst: A burning question in Gainesville and Tuscaloosa, for sure. Tebow hasn't given any indication publicly, and both Florida and Alabama feel they are in the driver's seat, something that adds to the intrigue of this recruiting decision.

My gut feeling is Florida for a few different reasons. First, there are Gators everywhere in the Tebow family. His parents are Gators, his brother is a Gator, he grew up on Florida football -- and that will be tough to beat. Tebow is also making a decision, in my opinion, based on comfort and people rather than football. With that in mind, the commitments from Jamar Hornsby and Jarred Fayson recently to the Gators have to help Florida's cause. Alabama has done all the right things in this race and has made this a very hard decision, but now with Jevan Snead out of the way, the family and friend connections and everything else, I think Gator fans will be smiling on Dec. 13.

How is South Carolina feeling about its Peach Bowl snub?
From Tony Morrell of GamecockCentral.com: I think it varies by player. For weeks, it appeared they were likely headed to the Outback Bowl, with the Peach Bowl in their hip pocket as a backup. So it's only natural for some of the players to be a bit disappointed when they fall to the Independence Bowl, but I also think there is a large group that are ecstatic to be going to a bowl. This especially applies to the seniors. It's up to the Gamecocks coaching staff and the leaders on the team to make sure the disappointment is short-lived, and that it doesn't have a negative effect on their preparation or their play in game itself.

Why did Kansas State hire the coordinator of a Virginia offense that ranked 69th in the country as the man to replace Bill Snyder as head coach?
From Tim Fitzgerald of GoPowercat.com: When Kansas State started to search for a coach who could carry on the school's football program with the same focus Snyder provided for the past 17 seasons, it was thought the school would try to find someone who had coached under Snyder. Eventually, the man who emerged as the person who shared the most in common with Snyder and who could provide the energy needed to move the program into the future was someone Snyder met less than a week ago.

Virginia offensive coordinator Ron Prince grew up just 20 minutes from the K-State campus, but had never coached at K-State. His core values align nicely with Snyder's, and his football philosophies will not be a radical departure for the players on the team. With an added emphasis on recruiting, Prince has already brought a new energy to the program in his first 48 hours on campus while gladly accepting the shadow Snyder will continue to cast over the K-State football program.

How did FSU rally the troops to upset Virginia Tech, and what's next?
From Gene Williams of Warchant.com: Not even the most dedicated Seminole fans gave their team a chance to upset then-No. 5 Virginia Tech. There was good reason for their skepticism. FSU was decimated by injuries, was coming of consecutive blowout losses and was in the midst of its longest losing streak since Jimmy Carter was in the White House.

On offense, instead of trying to compensate for their weaknesses on the line by running out of the I-formation, which they did against Clemson and Florida, Bobby Bowden's team went back to what it does best - they spread out the defense by going to more four-wide receiver sets and called quicker pass plays. As good as the Hokies defense is, nobody can match up with all the Seminole wideouts one-on-one, and quarterback Drew Weatherford did a great job finding the mismatches in the secondary and exploiting them.

On defense, Mickey Andrews and his staff made sure their defensive front kept Marcus Vick in the pocket where he isn't as comfortable throwing. Also, after having non-contact practices for nearly two months because of all of the injuries, the coaches took a risk and had the players don the pads in the practices leading up to the big game. The difference was noticeable in both the intensity and the tackling by the defense.

Finally, FSU simply outperformed the Hokies in their strongest area --- special teams. Willie Reid's 83-yard punt return for a touchdown and Pat Watkins making a great play to down a punt on the 1 took the wind out of Virginia Tech's sails. Those two plays really set the tone for the 'Noles taking the game over in the third quarter.




 

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