The Robertson Report

With the first week of the 2005 season in the books, the SEC East seems to be loaded while nearly all the teams from the West had a very sluggish first half in their respective games. The East went 5-1 last week with the lone loss, Kentucky, being arguably the most entertaining game of the weekend.

The SEC West went 4-1 with LSU off due to Hurricane Katrina. MSU, Alabama and Arkansas shook off slow starts and went on to big wins, while it took a late defensive stand to preserve the Rebel victory over the pesky Memphis Tigers.

Week 2 features seven games, including three conference openers. SEC favorite Tennessee, as well as the Rebs from Oxford, get the week off to prepare for their conference openers next Saturday. The Vols nor the Rebs were especially impressive this past week, but they made enough plays to win and that's what matters most.

South Carolina @ Georgia

South Carolina showed glimpses of who they could be amidst several moments of who they still are. Despite an offensive clinic in the first half, the Gamecocks had to hang on for the first win of the Spurrier era. The Cocks managed right at a dozen offensive plays in the second half. They must do better this week or things could get ugly.

Boise State visited Georgia with a potential Heisman trophy candidate Quarterback, but it was Georgia's D.J. Shockley who looked Heismanesque. Shockley tied a school record by throwing five touchdown passes and led his team in rushing on the day.

The Bulldog defense completely overwhelmed the visitors and will turn their sights this week toward conference win number one. The task could be made a bit more difficult with the return of South Carolina running back Daccas Truman. Truman sat out last week as the result of a suspension for his part in the Clemson/South Carolina brawl last season.

South Carolina could only muster a meager thirty two yards on twenty eight carries a week ago. Truman's return can only help.

Georgia should have little to no problem in this one despite the fact that this game has been a trap game for them in years past. Shockley's numbers shouldn't be as gaudy this week, but South Carolina still has a lot of youth on defense that won't slow him down much.

Georgia 34 South Carolina 17

Louisiana Tech @ Florida

This weekend's match-up with Florida will be the first of the season for Tech. To say that it won't be pretty may be an understatement.

Florida's Chris Leak's early numbers in the Urban Meyer offense are tremendous. Leak hit his spots all over the field and at one point completed seventeen straight passes. The seventeen straight completions is a new school record.

Things will get a little saltier for the Gators in the coming weeks, but this week should give the Gators another chance to get even more comfortable in the spread option.

Florida 56 La. Tech 16

Idaho State @ Kentucky

Trailing 28-7 last week, Kentucky had plenty of chances to quit and prepare for next week, but they didn't. Quarterback Andre Woodson brought the Cats back and nearly tied the game. Woodson was both hero and goat before the day ended. It was Woodson's late fumble that allowed Louisville to put the game away, but Woodson showed that the Wildcats may prove more wild than mild.

Idaho State pays a visit to Lexington this week fresh off a 36-13 drumming of Southern Utah. The Bengals may be catching Kentucky at the wrong time. Despite the close loss last week Kentucky and it's fans have room for optimism. They played well enough to win against one of the better teams in the country. This week they will take the next step.

Kentucky will establish more of a running presence this week and take some of the pressure off of Woodson. The UK defense grew up a lot in the second half a week ago and will have little trouble carrying that over this week.

Kentucky 28 Idaho State 9

Vanderbilt @ Arkansas

Arkansas rushed for an astounding 483 yards last week and saw three different ball carriers go over 100 yards. I don't care who you play or at what level, that's an impressive feat. The running game allowed the Hogs to play three different quarterbacks. But with that type of running game, why not just snap it to the backs?

Jay Cutler and company came from behind and knocked off Wake Forest. The game was a back and forth contest that went down to the final minutes. The veteran Vanderbilt team won a season opener for the first time since 1997 and did it on the road. The 'Dores take to the road again this week and travel to play the University of Arkansas on campus for the first time.

Since joining the SEC, Arkansas has never lost to Vanderbilt. They may not be able to boast such a claim after this week. If Vandy can stop the Hogs from running wild and force QB Robert Johnson to beat them they may have a chance. Johnson was 12 of 22 a week ago for a modest eighty-eight yards and an interception. That's a pretty big "if" and even if these aren't the same old Commodores, Arkansas should prevail.

Arkansas 31 Vanderbilt 14

Southern Mississippi @ Alabama

Due to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, USM was forced to postpone their season opener against Tulane. That's good and bad. The good news is they have been working on Alabama for nearly two weeks. The bad news is they haven't had a chance to work out the kinks like Alabama did this past Saturday.

Alabama overcame a very sluggish start to go on to an impressive victory a week ago. It took a half to get Ken Darby going. Brodie Croyle was able to stretch the defense a bit more in the second half and that opened things up.

Dustin Almond and company have had a lot of trouble moving the ball against the Tide during his career and this week will prove no different. Alabama always has a talented defense. And with the running game they have, the senior send off for Almond should be no different than the rest.

Alabama 28 USM 7

LSU @ Arizona State

The LSU season has already seen some adversity. The tune up game with North Texas was postponed and the home game with Arizona State was moved to Tempe this week. The Tigers will finally play under the lights in Death Valley next week when they play host to Tennessee, who happens to be coming off a bye week.

LSU lost the services of Ally Broussard to a season-ending freak knee injury and then saw linebacker E.J. Kuale put on the injured list for several weeks after injuring his ankle. Things aren't off to a great start for new man Les Miles, but hopefully things will get better once they finally tee it up this weekend.

The Tiger's attention will be on Sun Devil All-American wide out Derek Hagan. Hagan is the straw that stirs the Arizona State drink. Hagan was part of an offensive juggernaut that put up sixty three points a week ago against Temple. LSU is no Temple, but you have to wonder if the Tigers may be ripe for the picking after all the things that have gone on in their home state of Louisiana.

I think somehow, some way the Tigers will overcome the many obstacles and distractions of the preseason. Their fans could certainly use something to cheer about. And perhaps this will provide some necessary balm for some hurting people.

LSU 24 Arizona State 21

Mississippi State @ Auburn

The two quarterbacks featured in this weekend's Jefferson Pilot brunch game were polar opposites a week ago. Auburn's Brandon Cox threw four interceptions, which ties him for the most thrown in a game by an Auburn quarterback since Pat Sullivan threw five in 1969.

By comparison, MSU's Omarr Conner threw four touchdown passes, which tied him for the all-time single game school record with Tony Shell and Derek Taite. Shell and Taite both accomplished the feat twice.

There is no comparison between Murray State's defense and the wramblin' wreck from Georgia Tech, but you have to think both QBs confidence was effected by last week's results.

This week, the Auburn coaching staff appears to be committed to simplifying the offense, as well as establishing more of a ground offensive. Last week, the Tigers squeaked out fifty yards. While Ronnie Brown and Carnell Williams have departed, the expectations were much higher than fifty measly yards in the home opener.

The Georgia Tech defense stacked the box with eight or nine defenders and made Brandon Cox make plays. The plan worked, but you have to know that Cox and offensive coordinator Al Borges expect to see a lot of those same fronts this week.

MSU's defense had their anxious moments early on, but played dominant football in the second half. The Bulldogs allowed just six points, which was the lowest point total for an MSU opponent since Memphis scored just three way back in the season opener of 2000.

The Bulldog defense will see plenty of challenges this week. Brandon Cox is nowhere near as elusive as Murray State's Ken Topps, but he is a very talented quarterback who will win a lot of games on the Plains before he is done. Look for Cox to be a lot more under control this week.

Cox took a pounding last week, but kept getting up. He has the talent as well as the toughness to play in the Southeastern conference. The Bulldogs didn't blitz much last week, but after seeing the success blitz-happy Georgia Tech had, you should expect to see the Bulldogs gamble a bit more.

Anytime you play on the road in the SEC it is a difficult task. The Bulldogs have had their fair share of trouble on the plains and this week will be a familiar trip with a familiar result unless some breaks go our way.

Jerious Norwood will certainly need more touches if the Bulldogs have a chance to win their first SEC road game since knocking off Kentucky in Lexington way back in 2000. The Bulldogs must be able to hit timely passes and take advantage of some of the inexperience in the Auburn secondary. The turnovers must be non-existent and MSU needs to win the time of possession.

The Bulldogs were able to move the football well last week. The forward push from the offensive line was a welcome change. The offensive line will have a much better barometer of how good they are after this week's contest.

The bottom line on this one is that Auburn's Brandon Cox will play much better this week. The Tigers moved the ball very well last week between the twenties and it took six turnovers, including a stop on fourth down for Georgia Tech to win the game. Georgia Tech made the plays to win, but they also had a lot of help from Auburn. The Tigers will be hungry this weekend and will look to cut down on the mistakes.

It certainly appears that down the stretch a year ago and the first week of this season that the Bulldogs are playing much better, with the Egg Bowl being the lone exception. A win over Auburn on the road would be huge for this program and probably propel the Bullies into the bowl chase this year. Despite my own optimism, I think a win on the Plains this year is asking a bit much.

Auburn 28 MSU 17

Well that's the week! The Bulldogs will travel to Shreveport next week and play Tulane. That should be a winnable game and give the 'Dogs a winning record after three games for the first time since they last went bowling in 2000. Hopefully this is a sign of greater things to come. There will be a lot of games on TV this week. It's a great week to put off the yard work.

Until next week,

Steve Robertson
Galatians 2:20


Steve Robertson writes The Robertson Report for the Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com website. Steve's email address is therobertsonreport@hotmail.com.

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