Sunday morning coffee talk
The Answer Man returns with answers and guesses about what many are asking . . .
Q. Can State hang with Alabama?
A. I would answer that this way: Can anybody hang with Bama? Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide now looks to have an offense almost as good as its killer defense and its always excellent special teams. You’ve got the best talent, with the best coaching, and it is something to watch.
My best guess: State would have to play better than it has to date, and Alabama would have to be flat and put the ball on the ground.
Tyler Russell, with protection, might find some openings in the Alabama defense. But therein lies the problem. Bama just keeps coming — and from all directions.
Q. From 18 straight winning seasons to 0-7 and a 35-point loss at home on homecoming to Marshall? What has happened at USM?
A. The perfect storm. Austin Davis was even better than we knew. His raw QB replacements, all dealing with various injuries, are nowhere near him. They aren’t helped by the fact that receivers get zero separation and that protection is spotty. For as long as I can remember, USM has had fantastic linebacker play; not this year. Add to all that: The early schedule was a bear.
And even all that doesn’t explain how the Eagles could play so inconsistently, so well one Saturday in a tough, overtime loss to UCF and then so poorly the next Saturday at The Rock against Marshall. Sadly that inconsistency can only be chalked up to a lack of leadership, both among coaches and players. They’ve got to get some energy from somewhere.
Q. Can Ole Miss, 4-3, get to six wins and become bowl eligible?
A. Maybe, which is far more than I would have said in the pre-season. The Rebels have road games remaining with Arkansas, Georgia and LSU. They have Vandy and Mississippi State at home. They have to get two of the five, which would be a huge accomplishment.
Ole Miss is playing with energy and purpose. I just have a feeling the Rebs will get to six. Vandy, no easy chore (especially for Ole Miss here lately), has to be one of them. LSU would appear far-fetched but none of the others are totally out of the question. Boy, Texas A &M looks more and more like the big fish that got away.