Friday, September 4, 2009

Moral Victory! predictions for Saturday's college football games

We'll go ahead and get it out of the way: Vanderbilt will beat Western Carolina handily. Big surprise. The defense will have some big plays, maybe even score a touchdown. Larry Smith will do just fine. Zac Stacy will do just fine, and so will Warren Norman.

As for Jared Hawkins, we've been hearing for the last eight months or so that foot injuries can be tricky, and boy, has that been the truth with Jared. Even healthy, by midseason he'd be feeling the heat from Stacy and Norman and maybe even Tate.

I think Zac Stacy starts. He and Norman are tied for second on the depth chart behind Hawkins, who likely won't play. Everybody's talking about how freshmen can't pick up blitzes, but that's one thing players like Bradley Vierling noticed right away about Zac Stacy: he can pick up the blitz.

As for Wesley Tate playing, I just don't see why Bobby would burn the redshirts off three true freshmen tailbacks when his scheme calls for only one of them to play at a time. Stacy appears to be the most ready to play, and Norman is a pass-catching threat out of the backfield and could even line up wide if needed. Kennard Reeves has been running well between the tackles and even got some work at the Wildcat or Dorecat or whatever they're calling it where the tailback takes a direct snap, and Jermaine Doster has been a load too.

I say Stacy starts, Reeves plays next, and Norman gets in the game by the second quarter. Also, I think Larry can't resist and runs out of the pocket and looks good and the coaches spend all next week explaining that he can't pull that against LSU.

OK, Vanderbilt 31-12.

Other games from around the SEC:

Kentucky vs. Miami (Ohio): The RedHawks should play the Wildcats closer than they played the Commodores in last season's SEC opener. Kentucky 24-14.

Western Kentucky at Tennessee: The Volunteers have far superior talent, and unlike Phil Fulmer in last season's opener against UCLA, young Lane is not one to play it close to the vest. He's going to try to exploit the weaker team and put this one away fast. Tennessee 30-7.

Georgia at Oklahoma State: A tough, tough opener for the Bulldogs. But the Dawgs are loaded with talent, as usual, and I think their defense will be vastly improved. Also, fifth-year Joe Cox is a much better quarterback than people give him credit for. This is not Mackenzi Adams, who's been backing up Chris Nickson for three years. This is Joe Cox, who's been backing up the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft for three years. Big difference. Bulldogs by a field goal, or maybe more. Georgia 20-17.

Jackson State at Miss State: Dan Mullen will probably be satisfied to overpower this week's opponent with superior talent, give his quarterbacks and receivers some simple tasks to execute, and leave the other SEC teams guessing for at least another week. MSU 21-7.

La Tech at Auburn: The Tigers will be much better than people think this season. Which means their defense will still scare the daylights out of people and their offense will actually score some points. Expect a big year from Mario Fannin. Auburn 28-10.

Missouri State at Arkansas: The Razorbacks have a lot of young talent. Expect it to only get better. Oh, and quarterback Ryan Mallett, another high-profile transfer from a football power, could have as big an impact on the league as Jevan Snead did last year. Arkansas 25-14.

Charleston Southern at Florida: This is a stupid and unfair matchup. Florida 45-0.

Alabama vs. Virginia Tech: This should be a good one, with lots of big hits and some outstanding individual plays on offense (can you say Julio?). Alabama 17-7.

LSU at Washington: The Huskies will play hard and will keep it close for a while. LSU 28-10.

Ole Miss at Memphis: The Rebels are loaded with Orgeron-recruited talent, and they had a great season last year, but I still think they're overrated. Ole Miss 24-14.

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