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Gazzolo Column: New way of playing football here to stay

Last Modified: Monday, September 30, 2013 6:19 PM

By Jim Gazzolo / American Press

Spring break has broken out all over the Southeastern Conference.

Quarterbacks have gone wild, offensive coordinators have become geniuses and those days of defensive dog fights seem long ago.

It has been only two falls since LSU and Alabama met in the Game of the Century and combined to score 15 points, needing an overtime to get that much on the scoreboard.

Now teams are scoring that many points in the first quarter alone.

In LSU’s wild loss to Georgia last Saturday, each team finished the opening 15 minutes with 14 points.

Not sure when the SEC became the Big 12 South, but it has happened.

You can blame it on expansion, since it seems to have shifted when Texas A&M and Missouri joined the league, bringing their Big 12 style of fast-break, spread offenses with them.

Add the fact the Aggies stunned Alabama last year thanks to the offense and you get a bunch of copy cats.

To make matters worse, ‘Bama living legend Nick Saban whined about the new look and how hard it was to stop. LSU’s Les Miles has made similar comments about not being in love with it.

So the two best programs in the league, both with rock solid defenses, don’t like it and seem to have trouble with it.

Makes perfect since that those trying to knock those guys off would fall in love with it.

All this of course means the new way of playing football is here to stay, or will stick around long enough until somebody finds a new way to beat the top teams.

I would imagine even the oldest of old school SEC fans didn’t turn off their televisions as LSU and Georgia played a huge game that looked more than a little like something their kids played on the X-Box.

Desperately racing up and down the field, the two clubs put on a show until the Bulldogs finally won 44-41.

Many consider it the best game of the year just two weeks after they said the same thing as Alabama avenged its only loss from a year ago with a 49-42 victory over A&M.

Yes, Bear Bryant might be rolling over in his grave at the thought of 95-point SEC games. He would sure pull his hat over his eyes while watching some of these defenses under perform.

And those good ol boys who talk about big-boy football might not be all in on the new game, but it is the times we live in.

We have to face the facts that all the recent rules changes in the name of safety have helped fuel this scoring wild fire. You can’t attack on defense like before for fear of not only a penalty but also being kicked out.

That has made defenses more tentative, especially in the secondary where defensive backs try to limit the damage of each pass instead of trying to stop them cold.

This has also helped take athletes away from wanting to play on defense. They are no longer allowed to use their skills so more and more of them are going to the offensive side of the ball.

It’s more fun, especially now that they are over protected.

That is not to say great defenses are gone forever. They game is always changing and defenses will come around.

Even in the SEC, where coaches get the pick of the recruiting litter, this season seems to be the perfect storm for such games.

The league is filled with QBs that are likely to be playing next year in the NFL that are being met with young defenses that have not had time to learn the new game.

They will catch up.

However, those 9-6 overtime thrillers that put many viewers to sleep might be gone for a long time.

• • •

Jim Gazzolo is managing sports editor. Email him at jgazzolo@americanpress.com

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