We begin this week with a sale.
Hoppy Hoffman, proprietor of the Jonesboro, Arkansas Design Shoppe, created his own unique version of a Monday-madness sale promotion. After each home game victory by the Red Wolves of Arkansas State, Hoffman sells his Arkansas State apparel discounted 1 percent for every point the Red Wolves win by. Two weeks ago, Arkansas State beat Texas-Southern by the eye-popping score of 83-10, thus triggering a 73 percent discount.
“It got crazy,” said Hoffman. “When we opened the door at 9:30, at least 200 people filed in. It looked like they were waiting to buy tickets to a rock concert.”
This weekend let’s see which teams rock with that certain “Hop,” and which play like they’ve been discounted, discarded, and marked down for the losers bin.
No. 4 Florida at Tennessee (Ch.4, 3:30 p.m.) The Gainesville express is steaming into Knoxville. Its dual-threat All-America junior quarterback Tim Tebow engineers an offense that runs like mercury, but has yet to fully explode. The QB is assisted by a healthier wideout/tailback Percy Harvin, (who will be let loose for the first time since his heel surgery) and his receiver counterparts Louis Murphy and tight end Aaron Hernandez. He also has a pair of road-running tailbacks in Jeffrey Demps and Chris Rainey, but the running attack had yet to establish any consistency. The third ranked overall D zooms around like the Acela, led by its All-America backer Brandon Spikes, and has been very disruptive to the opposing quarterback. .
Phil Fulmer’s Volunteers are seeking redemption after last year’s Gainesville debacle, where Florida hung over a half-a-hundred on its hated rival. The boys from Rocky Top are directed by quarterback Jonathan Crompton (2 touchdowns – 3 interceptions, balky right ankle), who leans heavily on his top twenty rushing crew led by the Vols powerful tailback Arian Foster, who is averaging over 8 yards a carry. The D stones runners behind backers Ellix Wilson and Adam Myers-White, and All-America corner Eric Berry, but has some difficulty in defending against the pass, which isn’t a good formula against the Gators. Unfortunately for the Knoxville Orange faithful, Rocky Top sounds like its being played in 33 speed, as the Gators take a chomp out of Tennessee.
No. 3 Georgia at Arizona State (Ch.5, 8 p.m.) The Dawgs are searching for more consistency on the offensive side of the ball, particularly from its offensive line. Despite the ability of its starry quarterback Matthew Stafford, and its All-America tailback Knowshon Moreno (nearly 7 yards a carry, 7 touchdowns) plus the big play capability of wideout A.J. Green, Georgia has yet to approach the attacking style it employed in 2007. The D, behind end Jeremy Lomax and backer Rennie Curran, has been stellar in stopping the run, but has had early struggles in defending the pass.
The Sun Devils burn on the arm of senior quarterback Rudy Carpenter, who ranks fifth nationally in both passing yards, and efficiency, thanks in part to his big-play target Michael Jones. Unfortunately, the ASU running game has been drier that the Tempe air, which puts a great deal of pressure on Carpenter to remain mistake free. The D, led by end Dexter Davis and backer Gerald Munns is solid, but shows some vulnerability when trying to slow a quality runner.
We think the Dawgs are angry about it perceived lack of respect, and on Saturday night, coach Mark Richt who is 31-2 against non-conference opponents, and 26-4 on the road, draws a line in the desert sand, as the Dawgs take a bite out of ASU.
No. 6 LSU at No. 10 Auburn (ESPN, 7:45) After gorging itself on a pair of cupcakes, the Boys from the Bayou, get to taste the red blooded meat of an SEC schedule. The Tigers faithful are also anxious to see how coach Miles quarterback platoon of Andrew Hatch (formerly of Harvard) and Jarrett Lee handles the atmosphere of a hostile environment. The quarterbacks have a pair of quality targets in Brandon LaFell and Demetrius Byrd, but the trigger point is the ground attack. Tailback Charles Scott, the nation’s sixth leading rusher averaging over eleven yards a carry, is the offensive catalyst. The D is of disruptive LSU vintage, and roars behind end Rahim Alem and backers Perry Riley and Jacob Cutrera.
Auburn’s new look offense has been about as dynamic as a speech by Joe Liberman. The play of junior-college transfer quarterback Chris Todd (fumbles) also remains a question on the Plains. Until he becomes fully acclimated, the Tigers will depend on the sturdy legs of Ben Tate and Brad Lester (questionable – neck). The nation’s tenth ranked defense, featuring end Antonio Coleman and backer Merrill Johnson, have been impenetrable, surrendering a miniscule 15 points in three games, while holding opponents to three successful third down conversions in forty-six attempts. In what will likely be a war of attrition, we’ll take the visitors from Baton Rouge.
No. 18 Wake Forest at No. 24 Florida State (ESPN, 7 p.m.) Coach Jim Grobe, and his resilient Demon Deacons, has become a permanent resident in the lofty status of the top 20. The Deacs engineer is its dart throwing junior quarterback Riley Skinner, who in addition to completing seventy-five percent of his passes, has yet to throw an interception. The QB also has a pair of talented targets in wideout D.J. Boldin and tight end Ben Wooster. The running game featuring Josh Adams and Brandon Pendergrass remains stuck in neutral. The veteran D, sports a pair of All-Americas in backer Aaron Curry and corner Alphonso Smith, and has the ability to scheme and confuse a defense.
Florida State needs an insulin shot. After tasting nothing but frosting against a couple of éclairs, that had about as much of a chance of winning, as Ralph Nader does in the presidential election, the nation’s second highest scoring team, and tops in defense will be sampling from a different menu. Sophomore quarterback Christian Ponder has replaced senior starter Drew Weatherford, and has responded, by not throwing an interception. The running attack thunders with Anton Smith and Jermaine Thomas, while the trio of field-stretching wideouts is led by senior Greg Carr. The signature of the Seminoles is its defense, led by end Everette Brown and backer Derek Nicholson. In the old days it was next to impossible to win in Tallahassee, but this isn’t the old days and this isn’t your father’s Wake Forest, we’ll take the Deacons.
Virginia Tech at North Carolina (Ch. 5, 3:30 regional) The Hokies are road warriors. Since joining the ACC in 2004 VA Tech has gone 15-1 in conference road games. That may change this season, as the Hokies sport a lineup that is dotted with freshmen and sophomores. Coach Frank Beamer has also, at least temporally, scrapped his two-quarterback system and decided to let his dual-threat sophomore Tyrod Taylor, run the show. The Tech attack will rely heavily on its ability to run the ball, and features a very good one in freshman tailback Darren Evans. The D, because of graduations, isn’t vintage Blacksburg, and is led by backers Brett Warner, Purnell Sturdivant, and All-America corner Victor Harris. This group has had difficulty in stopping the run, and overall sits in the middle of the pack nationally.
The ‘Heels are starting to kick up its heels, as Coach Butch Davis has his North Carolina Tar Heels on an upward curve. The Chapel Hill faithful are so energized that thoughts of a bowl game are beginning to creep into their heads. The director of this pig-skin renaissance is sophomore quarterback T.J. Yates, with big assists from tailback Greg Little wideout Hakeem Nicks, and senior receiver Brandon Tate, who has averaged an astounding 25 yards every time he touches the ball. The D is pedestrian against both the run and the pass, and is led by end E.J. Wilson and backer Quinn Sturdivant. We’ll stick with the Chapel Hill renaissance, as Butch Davis begins to paint a winning portrait in Carolina.
Last week’s record: 3-2, Record for the season: 10-5.