Some questions answered but even more raised

Published 5:04 pm Tuesday, September 9, 2008

One week in the world of college football can provide answers to many questions while at the same time making us feel like we know less than before. This especially seems to be the case early in the season: we’re excited just to be able to watch a game, and we tend to analyze each result way too much because the sample size used to judge a team’s ability is so small.

Such is the case with Alabama and Auburn. The Crimson Tide looked like a different team in its struggle to a 20-6 win over Tulane on Saturday than it did in a 34-10 whipping of then-No. 10 Clemson in Week 1.

So, Alabama is not as good as we thought after the Clemson game. Thing is, the Tide is probably a lot better than we think right now with the Tulane game fresh on our minds.

Along the same lines, many were disappointed with the debut of the spread offense at Auburn, when the Tigers threw for only 85 yards in a 34-0 win over Louisiana-Monroe. After a 27-13 decision over Southern Miss in the season’s second week, however, all is well on the Plains because recently named starter Chris Todd had a nice day, completing 21 of 31 passes for 248 yards.

Kodi Burns could have a legitimate beef with the way Auburn picked its quarterback, but it appears the Arkansas native will handle the situation the right way and put the team first. Each of the two was given a game to start. In Burns’ start, the two quarterbacks were rotated every series, ruining any chance either had of getting comfortable and finding a rhythm. In Todd’s start, on the other hand, Burns didn’t see the field until the second half. Granted, Burns didn’t help his chances when he did play, completing more passes (one) to the Southern Miss defenders than he did to his receivers in three attempts.

How the Auburn coaching staff reached the decision is less important than the fact that the Tigers now have a quarterback. Two-QB systems do not work. Fans wanted to compare Auburn’s attempt with Chris Leak and Tim Tebow on the national championship winning Florida team of 2006, but there is no comparison. There was never a debate in Gainesville over which would start a game – and finish it. Leak was the kind of unquestioned starter a team has to have. Now, Auburn has one.

Alabama has one, too, though he did little to impress Saturday. John Parker Wilson wasn’t alone, though, as the offensive line, receivers and running backs all had bad games against the Green Wave.

The inconsistency displayed by the Tide offense was eerily similar to what we’ve seen over the past five seasons. But, also just like in that half of a decade, what Alabama does at the end of the season – in games against L.S.U., Mississippi State and Auburn, match-ups Alabama has gone 3-12 in over five years – will be much more important than what it does at the beginning of the season.