SEC Football: Every Coach's Biggest Flaw in 2012
There's no harder coaching job than doing it in the SEC.
Just ask Derek Dooley, John L. Smith, Gene Chizik and Joker Phillips, all of whom had their shot in the SEC and failed miserably in 2012.
They can all tell you that patience is nonexistent in this conference. Fanbases expect success immediately.
That's why it takes a near-perfect coach like Nick Saban to thrive in such an elite conference. But even Saban isn't perfect. What was his weakness in 2012?
Better yet, what were all of the SEC coaches' biggest flaws in 2012?
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Weakness: Control freak
Nick Saban is the best coach in college football.
Knowing that, it should come as no surprise that Saban's greatest weakness happens to be one of his strengths.
Let's face it, Saban is a control freak. We've all seen his candid interviews and angry rants in press conferences in 2012, and, really, it seemed that the pressure was starting to get to him.
Saban lost his cool trying to control his football team and everything that surrounds it. He runs a system that allows his club to dominate every phase of the game. And in some verbal exchanges with the media, it seemed as if he tried to control them as well. But some things are just uncontrollable.
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In case of any hurricanes in the Auburn area, everyone head toward Jordan-Hare Stadium. They haven't seen a touchdown there since Cam Newton was quarterback.
All jokes aside, Auburn's offense was nonexistent in 2012. It's the biggest reason why Gene Chizik no longer has a job.
Chizik is a defensive guy, and the product on the field reflected that. Chizik's offense ranked second to last in the league in scoring with 18.7 points per game.
As for the passing game, well, it was laughable. The Tigers ranked 13th in the 14-team SEC, averaging only 156.6 yards per game.
The 2012 season made it quite clear that Chizik needed former offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn.
Moving forward, the question is: Will Malzahn need Chizik?
John L. Smith
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Weakness: Leadership/common sense
Oh, John L. Smith, you truly do live in your own world, don't you?
Smith inherited a Top-10 club at Arkansas, and he somehow turned it into a bowl-less team. His lack of head-coaching ability was immediately exposed.
Through his offensive schemes and protection schemes early on, he allowed Tyler Wilson to take more hits than he should have against UL-Monroe. We all know what happened as a result.
And as things got worse for Arkansas (last in the league in turnover margin), Smith tried to make a few funnies. Unfortunately for him, Arkansas fans had lost their sense of humor.
Smith reminded college football fans just how valuable great coaches are in this game.
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How good was Florida's defense? Look at the Gators' 11-1 record and then consider their lack of offensive production.
Will Muschamp is an amazing defensive coach. But his offense was far from explosive in 2012.
In fact, Florida ranked last in the SEC in passing yards per game with 143.9. That's behind Auburn, Gator fans.
The Gators were 10th in the league in scoring offense with 26.8 points per game. But then again, it's OK to be mediocre on offense with a defense like that.
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Weakness: Rush defense
Georgia's defense underachieved.
Sure, the Bulldogs had a great season and came within a few yards of playing in the national championship game. But with all of that talent on defense, Georgia should have been more dominant.
At times, the Bulldogs' rush defense was suspect. Despite having several future NFL players, Georgia allowed 177.8 rushing yards per game.
Yeah, that's 10th in the league. Maybe if Richt's defense could have stopped rushing attacks a little better, Georgia would have beaten Alabama rather than giving up 350 rushing yards.
Would've, could've, should've...
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Weakness: Scoring points
Most of the scoring in Kentucky during 2012 was done by John Calipari's squad.
Joker Phillips' group, on the other hand? Not so much.
Kentucky was dead last in the SEC in scoring last season with 17.9 points per game.
The SEC's worst team in 2012 was 106th in the nation in passing yards, 90th in rushing and 119th in points scored per game. It led to Kentucky only winning two games and cost Phillips his job.
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Weakness: Living up to the Mad Hatter
Sometimes, people believe their own legend.
That was the case for Les Miles in 2012. For years, many called him "The Mad Hatter" for taking gambles and having them pay off. His mind-numbing play-calls would almost always turn out to be magical.
That disappeared for most of 2012. But Miles decided it was time to be The Mad Hatter against Alabama in the biggest game of the year. Bad idea.
After he called for a fake field goal on 4th-and-12 and the Tigers botched an onside kick, LSU went on to lose to Alabama by only four points. Who knows, maybe the score would have been different had Miles taken a more conventional approach.
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Weakness: Pass defense
Mississippi State's pass defense wasn't that bad in 2012. But wasn't it supposed to be the strength of this team?
Weren't the Bulldogs supposed to have one of the best secondaries in college football?
When Mississippi State went against elite teams such as LSU, Alabama and Texas A&M, this secondary looked far from elite. In fact, Zach Mettenberger had his best game of the season against this unit.
Despite having Johnthan Banks, Darius Slay and Corey Broomfield, the Bulldogs were eighth in the SEC in pass defense, allowing 223.9 yards per game. Teams simply out-schemed Mississippi State and out-executed them, and that falls on the Bulldogs' coaching staff.
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Weakness: A rushing game
Gary Pinkel gets somewhat of a pass because quarterback James Franklin couldn't stay healthy this season.
However, you can't give Pinkel a full pass because of that. Missouri went 5-7 in 2012, and the biggest reason the Tigers struggled so in their inaugural SEC season was the lack of a running game.
Missouri ranked 13th (behind Kentucky) in rushing yards per game with 138.5. You can't win in the SEC like that.
To succeed in this conference, Pinkel's spread offense must be more successful running the ball.
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Weakness: A failure to finish
Hugh Freeze did a marvelous job in his first season at Ole Miss.
Freeze had his players believing they could beat any team and they were competitive in nearly every contest.
But Ole Miss lost three SEC games by a total of nine points, losing late to Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M, giving up a last-minute, game-winning touchdown to Vanderbilt and allowing Odell Beckham to claw the Tigers back into the game in Death Valley.
Freeze's team showed it had fight in 2012. But he has to give it a killer instinct in 2013.
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Weakness: A lack of patience
Steve Spurrier is not a patient man.
He wants dominance, and he wants it now. Unfortunately for quarterback Connor Shaw, he wasn't allowed enough time to get into any sort of groove.
Spurrier quickly went to his backup, Dylan Thompson, and he played fairly well in some games.
Still, Spurrier's lack of patience might have hurt Shaw's confidence, and that can't be good for Spurrier's future passing attack.
The Ol' Ball Coach keeps a short leash, does he not?
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Derek Dooley's tenure at Tennessee was disastrous.
His biggest failure was on defense. At times, Tyler Bray and this Vols passing attack was unstoppable.
But Tennessee's defense was hardly ever dominant.
Actually, the Vols ranked last in the SEC in points allowed per game. Giving up 35.7 points per game in the SEC isn't going to cut it, and it's what ultimately sent Dooley out of the door. That and the lack of SEC wins...
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Weakness: Countering the counter
Kevin Sumlin's team is tremendous out of the gate.
Good luck stopping Texas A&M from scoring on its first drive of the game. These Aggies come out of the gate hot, and Manziel is a nightmare to stop.
But after teams such as Florida and LSU make adjustments at halftime, the second half tells an entirely different story. The Gators and the Tigers made the correct adjustments, and Sumlin failed to counter the counters made against his offense.
Heck, even Alabama made the adjustments necessary to come back and win the game. Unfortunately for the Crimson Tide, AJ McCarron threw an interception on the goal line in the fourth quarter.
Sumlin has to get better at making second-half adjustments in 2013.
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Weakness: Creating turnovers
Vanderbilt is a fundamentally sound football team. It protects the ball pretty well, and its play on the field certainly reflects its high GPA.
Enough can't be said about the job James Franklin has done. Leading the Commodores to eight wins and their second straight bowl appearance is outstanding.
However, his team has to get more turnovers. Vanderbilt ranks near the bottom of the SEC in turnovers created with just 13. For Vanderbilt to become a true contender in the SEC East, it needs to create more turnovers.