Good athletes critical for success

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 14, 2008

When I was writing about local high school football teams last week, I should have written that ACCS simply lacks enough quality athletes to compete this season.

I know that the team has several really good players, but to be really competitive they need to be strong at every position. Otherwise, the opposition will take advantage of whatever weakness they can find. Often, smaller schools will have a class or two when they have to wait for some younger players to mature.

I was glad to see Trinity continue its winning ways, and that Natchez High came out and beat Brandon. Cathedral is in a very tough region and will have to really struggle to make the playoffs this season.

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The mention of Trinity reminded me that, while listening to Mississippi State’s game with Vanderbilt Saturday, a Vandy linebacker named Benoist was heard on almost every play.

The player is Patrick Benoist, and he is the son of former Trinity athlete Glenn Benoist. The youngster’s grandparents were the late Judge Edwin Benoist and his late wife, Pat. Patrick Benoist has three brothers. Keith and Paul live in the Natchez area, and Keith is widely known for introducing kayak use and racing to the Miss-Lou.

Brother Lee lives in the Ridgeland area, and is a very active outdoors man. He annually participates in the alligator hunting season.

One of the few highlights for Tennessee in their loss to Georgia Saturday was a long interception return by Eric Berry. The young Berry is the son of James Berry, who was a great player for North Natchez and then Tennessee several years ago.

I do not know how Ole Miss beat Florida. After watching the Gators dismantle LSU Saturday night, it just seems like Florida was a completely new team. What a difference a week makes.

There was an officiating call in the LSU vs. Florida game that I think allowed the Tigers to be as close as they were. Florida had scored and kicked off to LSU. The LSU receiver appeared to catch (or at least touch) the ball, then stepped out of bounds.

Under the rules, “A ball not in player possession, other than a kick that scores a field goal, is out of bounds when it touches the ground, a player, a game official, or anything else that is on or outside a boundary line.”

It certainly appeared that the kick at the very least touched the LSU receiver when or before he stepped out of bounds. The replay officials must have seen something I did not see.

Fans know that this year’s rule change includes a ‘40 second’ play clock in college football. The result is that games are shorter by an average of 14 minutes this season, but there are an average of 135 plays per game, while last year there were 143 plays per game.

That has to please defensive coaches, but the offenses have not suffered too much. In the SEC, yards per game are up, while scoring is down. Strangely, the Big 12 Conference has had opposite results.

These statistics come from the NCAA Web site, and are attributed to Rogers Redding, who is the supervisor of officials for the SEC.

And, that’s official.

Al Graning writes a weekly column for The Democrat.