The Mad Hatter Strikes

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LSU's offense came alive in Saturday's win over Alabama.

LSU's offense came alive in Saturday's win over Alabama.

Les Miles eats grass. He eats it intentionally. He eats it regularly.

Take a moment and really allow that to sink in. Take two, if you’d like. LSU’s head coach admitted it Saturday, after he was caught on camera ingesting some choice Tiger Stadium blades.

“I have a little tradition that humbles me as a man,” he said, “lets me know I’m a part of the field, a part of the game.”

Seems perfectly reasonable, a grown man eating grass. Miles also said the Tiger Stadium turf is the tastiest.

This has to be one of the best discoveries in college football history.

Perhaps we’ve also figured out what happens to Miles in the final minutes of games. Two words: fertilizer volume.

No one really seems to get a handle on what comprises the Les Miles genius. Maybe it’s the Hat. Maybe Miles and Lucifer are in cahoots. Maybe John Chavis has the best defense in the SEC (he does). But it’s quite incredible theater every week, no?

What if LSU, which now has good league wins against Mississippi State, Florida and Alabama, wins out but doesn’t play in the SEC title game? Does that one-loss LSU team get a nod to the national title game? Impossible to know, but don’t mess with the Weed Eater.

Scoreboard

Florida 55, Vanderbilt 14
Georgia 55, Idaho State 7
Kentucky 49, Charleston Southern 21
Auburn 62, Chattanooga 24
LSU 24, Alabama 21
Ole Miss 43, UL Lafayette 21
Arkansas 41, South Carolina 20
Tennessee 50, Memphis 14

Thumbs Up

• One more LSU note. The defense has been spectacular, but how about the Tiger quarterbacks Saturday? They weren’t half-bad, for a change. Jordan Jefferson was 10-of-13, Jarrett Lee went 4-for-7. Jefferson could’ve had another deep completion to Reuben Randle, if Randle had held on. Miles had a really creative fourth-and-1 call late in the game, on a tightly wound end around that worked like a charm. The Tigers offense took huge steps against a very good defense.

• Arkansas has a running game to go with Ryan Mallett. That’s a big pretty development for the Hogs, who got 110 yards and three touchdowns from Knile Davis on Saturday. With defenses on their heels, on account of Mallett, what a weapon to have something at the line of scrimmage. Davis has 541 yards in the past five weeks, including eight touchdowns in the past three games. That’s especially handy near the goal line.

• All right, so Memphis might be the worst team in the FBS. But, you know, that makes the idea to start freshman Tyler Bray against the Tigers all the more genius for Derek Dooley and Tennessee. Continuing to play him against Kentucky and Vanderbilt isn’t going to hurt anything, either, for the 3–6 Volunteers. After a 300-yard game, Bray’s showing a little flash for the future. Now, if the 6-6, 185-pound kid could put on a little weight. He needs to enroll in Sandwich Artistry 101 next semester. Bray to Hunter. Get used to that.

• Don’t look now, but Florida seems to be showing signs of coming together. And the Gators get a very wounded (literally and metaphorically) South Carolina team at home for the right to play in Atlanta. Clubbing Vanderbilt in Nashville isn’t all that meaningful, in and of itself, but Florida will take any measure of confidence. And, well, the Gamecocks didn’t look all that good at Vandy three weeks ago.

Thumbs Down

• South Carolina spent all week talking about how much the Arkansas game meant to it. Perhaps the Gamecocks were trying to convince themselves. They didn’t seem to care all that much against Arkansas, with possibly Florida and this week in mind. Finding decent efforts from anyone beyond Alshon Jeffery (seven catches, 99 yards) is pretty much impossible. There weren’t any. The offense disappeared once Marcus Lattimore (season-low 30 yards) left with a bruised knee. He returned, but never looked into the game. He wasn’t alone. South Carolina’s defense forgot how to tackle on top of its secondary issues. It wasn’t a team that looked like it could be competitive next week in the Swamp for the SEC East title.

• The Gamecocks get a second note here. Steve Spurrier needs a new definition for “midfield.” Two straight weeks, he’s called the area around the 35-yard line “midfield.” Last week, Tennessee beat the Gamecocks on a fake punt, with punter Chad Cunningham scooting around the right side for a 25-yard run (yes, 25). Then, Saturday against Arkansas, in nearly the same spot on the field, the Gamecocks made their own fake punt call. It went to upback Dalton Wilson, a sophomore fullback who had never touched the ball before. South Carolina needed 6 yards; it got zero. It didn’t work. It was desperate. And the team’s confidence was shot thereafter, even though it was then a 17–7 game. With three minutes left in the half, punt and (try to) play defense.

• We’ll just leave this as an exclusively Gamecocks version of thumbs down. They were that bad.

Stud of the Week

Cam Newton, Auburn QB. Oh, why not. It was against an FCS opponent, yes. But Newton showed off the arm, with 317 yards and four touchdowns — in 2½ quarters. Georgia is next. That’s intriguing. Of course, so is Newton being the focus of an NCAA investigation. Stay tuned on that one.

Dud of the Week

The schedule. There were five non-conference games on the SEC slate Saturday, including halftime leads of 41, 34, and 33. And that’s not counting Florida’s 41–0 halftime lead against Vandy. Woof.
 

Taxonomy upgrade extras: 
LSU has been overlooked and counted out most of this season. However, the Tigers scored a huge win over Alabama to move to 8-1 and into position to earn an at-large berth to a BCS game.