I was one of his biggest doubters, but he's made a believer out of me. Tra Battle can play safety in the SEC. The entire off-season I complained about Tra Battle starting in the secondary. I moaned about his lack of size, and I whined about how I didn't think he had the cover skills to compensate for that lack of size. I thought it would be a HUGE step down from Thomas Davis to Tra Battle. I was absolutely convinced that Kelin Johnson or CJ Byrd (include Antonio Sims before his injury) would overtake Battle for the starting free safety spot by this time in the season. I thought Battle would get picked on and be exposed as the weak link in an otherwise strong secondary. I'm a proud guy (especially when it comes to sports), but not too proud to admit an epic error in judgment. It is very unfair to compare Battle to a first round draft pick, but Battle has been more than adequate in filling TD's shoes. I made the time-tested mistake of completely dismissing heart, desire and competitiveness. Battle has played very well, and could not have been more wrong about his abilities. Here are Battle's season stats so far:
Solo Tackles: 17 (2nd on team)
Assists: 13 (1st on team)
Total Tackles: 30 (2nd on team)
Interceptions: 2 (tied for 1st on team)
Yards after Int: 43 (1st on team)
Forced Fumbles: 1 (tied for 1st on team)
Fumbles Recovered: 1
Passes Defended: 1
QB Hurries: 3
Good Ole Rocky Top!!
I know every Dawg fan has read every article available on the internet about the lashing the Volunqueers took this past weekend, so I won't write a long piece about it. I did, however, want to take a second and just mention how impressed I was with the team as a whole. The Tennessee offense is nothing special, but our defense basically shut them out. Regardless of the ineptness of Randy Sanders, a shut out of Tennessee is something to brag about. Our offense, despite a couple hiccups (drops, interception and fumble), was very efficient and balanced. 207 yards through the air and 198 on the ground is outstanding (especially considering how good the Tennessee defense was supposed to be). The special teams were just amazing. There's not really anything else that needs to be said about Flowers, Ely-Kelso and company.
On to the top ten!!
1. USC (5-0) - USC is the best team in the nation, but that may be their downfall. Their ego is making them look very beatable.
2. Texas (5-0) - I want to put Texas at number 1, but I just can't do it with Ohio State losing again.
3. Georgia (5-0) - Dawgs proved they can play with, and beat, anyone.
4. Virginia Tech (6-0) - Unfortunately, we will need help to convince the pollsters that we are better than the Hokies.
5. Florida State (5-0) - All of sudden, Weatherford learned how to play quarterback. But what happened to the defense??!?
6. Alabama (5-0) - I was the original member of this bandwagon (outside of Alabama natives), but I'm starting to get skittish. I think this is where Alabama belongs (based on talent and accomplishment), but I'm not so sure they don't end the regular season with at least one loss (maybe even as many as 3).
7. Miami (4-1) - Why not? If Wright continues to progress, this ranking is deserved.
8. Notre Dame (4-1) - Weis has proven he's no Chan Gailey. Now he needs to prove he is a Pete Carroll.
9. LSU (3-1) - This is still a ranking based solely on potential.
10. Penn State (6-0) - JoePa got it done. Can he do it against Michigan, Purdue, Wisconsin and Michigan State??? Right now, Penn State deserves a top ten ranking, but they end the year with at least 2 losses.