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Don't believe everything coaches say

By By Stan Torgerson / sports columnist
Sept. 8, 2003
Now let's see if we have this straight. Ole Miss has three fine running backs back from last year, a year older and certainly a lot better. Last year's lack of a running game will be history.
And, oh yes, the defense which had problems in 2002, has accomplished the same metamorphosis. Bigger, better and smarter. Twenty-four defensive letter winners returning, eight of them starters.How good can life get?
We switch to Auburn. The three best running backs in the SEC are all on one team. Every coach in the league would give his right arm to have either Carnell Williams, Ronnie Brown or Tre Smith but Tommy Tuberville has them all. They're such monsters, they're not only going to possibly win every game, they're liable to physically hurt somebody.
Miracles are happening in the pros as well. Talk about upgrading a defense. Look at all the talent the New Orleans Saints, traded for, paid the big bucks to free agents to sign or drafted from the colleges. They'll have the speed of a track team on that side of the ball and the wisdom of a coach.
And all I have to do is buy one ticket for the Powerball lottery and be $12 million richer next Saturday night.
Why not? One dream is as good as the other.
Let's look at the Rebels running game. Last year, Ole Miss averaged only 94 yards per game.
This year against Vanderbilt the Rebels gained 95 and last Saturday in the Memphis game they ran for 116. If my math is correct that is a total of 210 yards or 105 per game. Significant improvement? Not hardly.
And all that coach-speak about how we realize we must have a running game to win and this year we believe we've got one? The proof of this pudding is in the calling. Against Memphis the Rebel offensive coordinator called 48 passing plays and only 30 running.
What does that tell you? It tells you the coaches have no more faith in their team's running game than does the guy up in the last row of the grandstand behind the goal posts. Yards gained passing against the Tigers, 292. Yards gained rushing, 116.
As for the defense, last week against Vanderbilt the Rebs allowed 399 yards from scrimmage. A week later Memphis earns 506 yards rushing and passing. That's 905 yards allowed in two games, 452.5 per game. Last year, Ole Miss opponents averaged 347.3 per game. This is progress?
Now to Auburn. What odds could you have expected if you had wagered before the season started that Auburn would not score a touchdown in its first two games combined. This is a team which score 52 touchdowns last year, an average of more than four per game. In their first two games in 2002 the Tigers scored 73 points. This year 5.
Should they lose to Vanderbilt this week, and it's possible even if it is unlikely, the school will have to put armed guards around coach Tommy Tuberville's office.
Oh, and the three best running backs in the league. The first week they collectively rushed for 43 yards. Last Saturday against Georgia Tech, they got 40 yards on 38 carries. In 2002 they averaged 167 per game.
Then there are the Saints. They win one and lose three during preseason, but don't worry about it because we just wanted to look at our young people and beside we didn't want to show Seattle what we have.
Well, now Seattle knows what they have and so does the rest of NFL, question marks on defense, a probably overrated quarterback and wide receivers who are an adventure, will they or will they not catch the ball.
Only Deuce McAllister is the real thing, and he can't win games by himself anymore than Eli Manning can at Ole Miss or Cadillac Williams can at Auburn.
You have to ask yourself if coaches really believe what they tell the press or are their fingers secretly crossed when they speak. The coaches at Ole Miss, Auburn and New Orleans aren't the only ones.
Famed comedian/philosopher Will Rogers once said the only thing he knew was "what I read in the papers." Today we can add "or see and hear on television."
The way things are going we can't even know that.