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Football teams showing what to expect in 03

By By Stan Torgerson / sports columnist
Sept. 15, 2003
Three weeks into the 2003 football season what have we learned?
We've learned Ole Miss may become a very good football team but it won't be a great one. We've learned Eli Manning is not going to be able to carry this team without quality running backs to help him and so far no one wearing red and blue fits that description. We've also learned the team is thin as tissue paper in the defensive secondary and, for several of these young people back there, doing their best isn't doing good enough. Not yet at least.
We've learned that Mississippi State is a very bad football team and that the Oregon and the Tulane games proved it. Particularly Tulane. We've discovered that just signing the most members of the state's Dandy Dozen doesn't mean a thing unless you can teach them to play at the SEC level after they arrive in school. The Bulldog coaches are learning that too.
We've also learned Southern Mississippi is a true blue collar football team, hard working, well organized, always doing their best but not talented enough to make a national name for themselves. Except if they can beat Nebraska next week, of course. We've also noticed Jeff Bower is probably doing the best coaching job in the state right now. And maybe has been for the past several years.
We've learned Jackson State fans don't know who's running their team at the moment, coach James Bell or the players, but whichever it is, neither he nor the kids are doing a very good job of it. Total disorganization and 0-3 for the first time since 1998. And if their fans were unhappy with 7-4 each of the last three seasons they are going to be even more so when this year is over.
We now know Georgia is as good as advertised. They're big, strong and talented, well trained and well disciplined and they are going to be very, very hard to beat.
We learned during these three weeks that Auburn was a bit overrated but they still are capable of spending December 6th in Atlanta playing for the SEC championship.
We've come to the assumption that Arkansas is a bit better than was expected, but how much better we won't know until they play Alabama, Auburn, Florida and Ole Miss in a row starting Sept. 27th.
We're still not certain about Alabama. Beating South Florida and Kentucky doesn't tell us as much as playing Oklahoma to a virtual standstill does. We do know, however, that tailback Shaud Williams, a preseason All-SEC pick, may be the best at his position in the entire league and you'd know it too if you saw him against the Wildcats.
And we still have questions about Tennessee. The Vols have played absolutely nobody, unless you wish to call Fresno State and Marshall somebodies, but this Saturday their game with Florida should give us some answers..
We also expect to learn this weekend whether or not LSU is for real when they meet Georgia at Baton Rouge. Three games against the likes of UL Monroe, Arizona and Western Illinois were no help at all when judging the Tigers' long term prospects.
We know Vanderbilt is valiant but as usual, is one-deep everywhere and the third and fourth quarters in the SEC can been exhausting unless you've got talented backups ready to give relief to their startersand Vandy doesn't have many of those.
We have learned South Carolina has enough talent to beat the worst but not enough to beat the best.
We've also developed confidence that Florida is a threat every time out of the box, based on their near win against Miami. Granted they have all their toughest games still in front of them, all but Miami that is, but they have enough ability to win the East and make the trip to Atlanta.
There are other things we shall discover as the season moves along but at this point we're off to a pretty good start.One of them that became obvious opening weekend is the television networks or cable channels firmly believe all they have to do is put a college football game on their channel, major, minor or totally non-descript games, and they will generate an audience.
As for me, I have learned that college football on Saturdays from, 11a.m. until midnight and pro football on Sundays from noon until 6:30 p.m. is just about right.
Now if I can only teach that to my wife.