ESPN school soccer analyst Matt Stinchcomb helps us make sense of the early SEC season. How good can Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi State be in 2018?
We’re solely getting into Week three of the 2018 NCAA season, nevertheless it looks to be one other nice yr for the SEC. 5 groups are ranked inside the top-20 of the AP Prime 25 Ballot. At the very least three groups in the Alabama Crimson Tide, the Auburn Tigers and the Georgia Bulldogs can really feel assured about their probabilities of reaching the School Soccer Playoff.
Then once more, it’s solely the center of September. With a full slate of SEC video games left on the horizon in the subsequent two and a half months, ESPN school soccer analyst and lately elected School Soccer Corridor of Famer Matt Stinchcomb took a couple of minutes of his time on Thursday to assist us make sense of the early SEC slate.
Stinchcomb, who was a two-time All-American at offensive deal with for Georgia in the 1990s, continues to do nice analyst work for ESPN, in addition to be an enormous a part of the Allstate AFCA Good Works Staff. He’s a former Good Works Group member himself and is considered one of individuals in cost of choosing this yr’s squad of men who not solely carry out on the sector and in the classroom, however in their very own communities.
When speaking about his work with the Allstate AFCA Good Works Staff, Stinchcomb would say, “It’s always been a privilege to be associated with what I think is the highest honor I think you can receive as a college football player, and that’s recognition for the selfless work that you are doing or do on the behalf of people other than yourself. These are the guys that recognize the opportunities to impact their communities, their schools, the campuses. And they take advantage of those to the fullest extent.”
“Well, if we’re defining “catch” as getting that program on par to the place Georgia has constructed that program, I might say no. We’re not going to see that this season. We’d not see that the subsequent couple of seasons.” – Matt Stinchcomb on any SEC East group catching Georgia this season
Georgia placekicker Rodrigo Blankenship was one of many nice scholar athletes to make the 2018 group, and is the lone SEC participant on this yr’s squad. He’s the newest Bulldog to have made this illustrious squad. Hats off to him and all of the members of this yr’s staff.
And with Blankenship’s robust leg and lethal accuracy as Georgia’s All-American hopeful kicker, there isn’t a doubt that Stinchcomb feels very strongly about his alma mater’s possibilities to make some noise once more this fall in the SEC. So we’ll begin with the Dawgs.
Georgia dealt with its SEC East rival South Carolina 41-17 on Saturday in Columbia. Whereas Stinchcomb was one of many many school soccer analysts that thought the Gamecocks might give the Dawgs a run for his or her cash in Week 2, he too was shocked of how lopsided it received in favor of Georgia.
Stinchcomb attributes a lot of that to one thing he might have missed heading into the season on the subject of South Carolina: their new offensive play caller in Bryan McClendon. “You’re speaking a few philosophical shift in a brand new offensive play caller in Bryan McClendon, calling solely his third recreation ever versus what’s a longtime soccer program and a reasonably gifted protection is reverse a threatening offense with playmakers, not solely in the backfield, however on the perimeter and at quarterback.
General, a scorching day on the street in a hostile setting at Williams-Brice Stadium with a protection that wanted reloading might have probably swung the sport in South Carolina’s favor. Nevertheless, the play calling of McClendon was nothing Georgia defensive coordinator Mel Tucker couldn’t deal with. Outdoors of a large receiver move for a landing by the electrical Deebo Samuel, Tucker and his boys stored McClendon’s offense in examine all afternoon.
Seeing that Georgia clobbered what many perceived to be its largest menace in the SEC East, I requested Stinchcomb if any workforce can truthfully problem the Dawgs in the division. His response was trustworthy, however multi-pronged.
“Well, if we’re defining “catch” as getting that program on par to the place Georgia has constructed that program, I might say no,” Stinchcomb replied. “We’re not going to see that this season. We might not see that the next couple of seasons. But can one of these teams in the East Division catch Georgia, not only on an off-day, but play one of their better games of the season? Yeah.”
He would elaborate on saying two groups down the street might probably be a street black for Georgia: the Missouri Tigers and the Kentucky Wildcats. Stinchcomb cited how nicely star Missouri quarterback Drew Lock has seemed in new offensive coordinator and former Tennessee Volunteers head coach Derek Dooley’s system. He feels that extensive receiver Emanuel Corridor is “picking up from where he left off a season ago.”
“He’s having to reap what others have sewn that preceded him. They did not recruit at an elite level and they’re being asked to compete in a conference that does. That’s going to be really, really difficult.” – Matt Stinchcomb on the state of affairs Dan Mullen inherited taking up at Florida.
However maybe most significantly, Stinchcomb picked up on how the Missouri protection has rallied behind defensive-minded head coach Barry Odom from the second half of final season on. To him, “the defense is much improved and is what’s allowed the Tigers to get to a bowl game for Barry Odom.”
Georgia should play Missouri on Sep. 22 for an 11:00 a.m. native time begin at Faurot Area. If the Dawgs aren’t awake throughout kickoff, perhaps Missouri has the potential to be an enormous killer right here in Week four of the season?
As for Kentucky, the Wildcats beat the perpetual nemesis that’s the Florida Gators for the primary time since 1986. When requested if Massive Blue Nation’s win in Gainesville was extra of a testomony to the great job Mark Stoops is doing at Kentucky or the quantity of labor forward of Dan Mullen for the Florida program, Stinchcomb didn’t really feel it was an “either or” proposition. He likes the job that Stoops has executed in Lexington and feels strongly that Mullen will get it proper at Florida ultimately.
Stinchcomb would put it bluntly that Kentucky in all probability ought to have crushed Florida in the final two seasons, citing two performs particularly that a Gator wideout was left uncovered in one other heartbreaking loss for Kentucky at Kroger Subject in Lexington only a yr in the past.
As for Florida, Stinchcomb acknowledges the mess Mullen has inherited after three tough head teaching exits earlier than him in the type of City Meyer, Will Muschamp and Jim McElwain.
“He’s having to reap what others have sewn that preceded him,” Stinchcomb put it truthfully. “They did not recruit at an elite level and they’re being asked to compete in a conference that does. That’s going to be really, really difficult. Until they get acclimated not only to a new culture, but until they are able to recruit into that program for a couple of seasons, I think it’ll be a challenge for Florida to compete at a high level consistently, relative to a Georgia that’s got a two-year head start on them.”
Whereas Mullen doesn’t precisely have the most effective crops to reap down in Gainesville, he did depart the Mississippi State Bulldogs down in Starkville in a greater place than he discovered it. That is to the good thing about new head coach in former Penn State Nittany Lions offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead.
For a staff that misplaced arguably its greatest coach ever for a perceived higher job in the convention, Stinchcomb shouldn’t be alone in his reward for what Mississippi State might accomplish in 2018. “I think Mississippi State is going to be pretty good. Coming into the season, I wasn’t alone. A lot of people felt that they were going to be one of the contenders in the SEC West for what could be second place.”
With a confirmed star at quarterback in Nick Fitzgerald, an rising playmaker at operating again in Kylin Hill and two absolute monsters alongside the defensive position in Montez Sweat and Jeffery Simmons, Stinchcomb wouldn’t be shocked if Mississippi State gained 9 or 10 video games in Moorhead’s first yr main this system. Nevertheless, Mississippi State wants to complete above .500 in SEC play to try this, one thing that solely occurred as soon as throughout Mullen’s nine-year tenure main the Bulldogs.
In fact, we wouldn’t be doing our due diligence if we didn’t spend a couple of minutes on the three different robust groups in the SEC West in Alabama, Auburn and the LSU Tigers. Alabama already looks to be the perfect workforce in the Energy 5 heading into Week three. The Crimson Tide have already buzz sawed the Louisville Cardinals Week 1 in a neutral-site affair in Orlando.
When requested if there could possibly be a weak spot for the Crimson Tide this season, Stinchcomb provided us a reasonably fascinating nugget and one we have to pay nice consideration to in Saturday’s street recreation towards the high-flying offense of the Ole Miss Rebels.
“Well, the question mark has and I think somewhat remains the secondary, a rebuilt secondary at that for Alabama. Will anyone be able to test it? Well, they will certainly get tested this week. You’re talking about an Ole Miss offense and an offensive unit in the passing game that has serious weapons.” – Matt Stinchomb on Alabama’s perceived weak spot and the way the Ole Miss offense might exploit that.
“Well, the question mark has and I think somewhat remains the secondary, a rebuilt secondary at that for Alabama. Will anyone be able to test it? Well, they will certainly get tested this week. You’re talking about an Ole Miss offense and an offensive unit in the passing game that has serious weapons.”
Ole Miss has let it rip offensively with Jordan Ta’amu as its beginning quarterback. With elite receivers in A.J. Brown and D.Okay. Metcalf, the Rebels do current an fascinating case research for learn how to exploit the Alabama protection. It’s a cause the Crimson Tide are on upset alert. Nevertheless, Ole Miss looks like SEC Texas Tech, because the protection has been largely horrendous in the primary two weeks. Frankly, that in all probability hurts Ole Miss’ possibilities at an enormous upset on Saturday versus the No. 1 workforce in the nation.
Whereas many will probably be tuning in to see the potential barn-burner between Alabama and Ole Miss in Oxford, the SEC Recreation of the Week on CBS might be between two ranked groups in Auburn and LSU at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Stinchcomb has typically been important of LSU getting an excessive amount of early season hype. Although he likes Nick Brosette at operating again, Stinchcomb feels that graduate switch quarterback Joe Burrow “will have to play the game of his life” to beat Auburn down on The Plains on Saturday afternoon.
Stinchcomb actually likes Auburn’s front-seven, believing that linebacker Deshaun Davis would be the distinction maker for a way good this Auburn group might be. The protection must paved the way for Auburn to run the gauntlet that’s its SEC slate to even take into consideration making it again to Atlanta. Although he likes Jarrett Stidham at quarterback, a scarcity of weapons causes Stinchcomb to consider that Auburn should win with protection this yr, one thing that isn’t out of the realm of risk.
So whichever workforce does come out of the SEC West this fall shall be battle examined. 4 of these groups are ranked in the top-20. Ole Miss must be a enjoyable watch, although the Rebels aren’t bowl eligible because of a scandal that happened beneath the earlier teaching regime. Even Jimbo Fisher ought to have the Texas A&M Aggies as a seven-win group in his first yr in School Station.
Nevertheless, Stinchcomb feels that one SEC West group gained’t be sniffing a bowl recreation this yr. That may be Chad Morris’ Arkansas Razorbacks. When requested how tough it’d get for the Hogs this fall, Stinchcomb’s response put all of it in perspective as regards to quantity of philosophical modifications on offense which have occurred in Fayetteville the final decade.
“You look at Arkansas and it is somewhat of a whipsaw where you’re going from a Bobby Petrino offensive approach to a Bret Bielema power run game with heavy boxes. That evolved somewhat when [former offensive coordinator] Dan Enos got there.
And now you’ve got a departure there, a pretty distinct one at that to what Chad Morris wants to be offensively with a commitment to uptempo and pace. I feel confident that they’re not comfortable with how that’s performing so far.”
Simply think about going from a pro-style offense beneath Petrino to old-fashioned Huge Ten soccer beneath Bielema with some trendy ideas sprinkled in from Enos to an uptempo unfold underneath now Morris. Merely put, Arkansas wants to seek out an offensive id and stick with it if the Razorbacks don’t need to be caught in the SEC West basement for years on finish.
General, it’s all the time good talking with Stinchcomb. He presents nice perception to the SEC panorama, typically mentioning fascinating wrinkles with every group that could be getting ignored in any other case. The SEC looks to be the most effective convention in the Energy 5. It ought to be enjoyable to observe the way it all unfolds down south this fall. Can the SEC get two groups into the Playoff once more? We’ll see.
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