Double Battle of 2-0 Teams in SCRC
Double Battle of 2-0 Teams in SCRC
Tennessee may well be the best D1AA program in the country—we at GRR certainly thought that was true in 2021-22 and somebody has to prove us wrong.
But that doesn't mean the SCRC is a foregone conclusion. There are still some teams making a splash and jostling for position. This week there will be a lot of jostling as Alabama takes on Tennessee in Knoxville and Kentucky is at South Carolina.
Kentucky is 2-0, but the two wins were a forfeit and a 113-0 romp. Those results don't really tell us much.
Wildcats Head Coach Sam Enari says he's a little apprehensive about the game, but also added that Kentucky is a bit more polished than they were in their opener against Thomas More (where GRR was present).
"Things are starting to click and flow the last few weeks," Enari said. "We are playing open and unselfishly, but this will be the first test for us in league play and USC is riding a wave of momentum after their close win."
We'll be looking at @CockRugby vs @WildcatRFC this week among other games. While USC had a very close game last week, the Wildcats did not. They were firing on all offensive cylinders. Here's a look. @SCRCrugby pic.twitter.com/7EACRvbUV6— Alex Goff (@goffrugbyreport) October 13, 2022
Right, a close win. Anyone who reads these pages frequently knows were value a difficult win over a blowout, at least in terms of how a team will progress. USC Head Coach John Roberts told GRR he expects this upcoming game to be another close one. The game against Clemson, won by the Gamecocks 12-10, was one where both teams spent a lot of time defending their goalline only to force a turnover and get a long-range try. Neither team got discouraged about that, and in the end, it was just the fact that one of USC's tries was scored under the posts that proved the difference.
South Carolina is 2-0 in the conference by a grand total of five points.
"The boys are excited about their big win last week but we have to things game to game and prepare the best we can," warned Enari.
Meanwhile, Tennessee hasn't allowed a point in conference play in going 2-0. There's a reasonable expectation that the high-flying Vols will give up a point or two against an Alabama team that is also 2-0.
Alabama has a new coach Nathan Williams and a new approach, but they have performed well so far and captain and outside center Paul Malito credits Williams for developing the players' skills and game knowledge.
"It was tough adjusting to a new coach in the beginning of the season, but we did so fairly quickly and our team chemistry is on point right now," said Malito. "It helps us create an offensive flow knowing we can trust our teammates with catching, passing, tackling, etc. Overall, this puts confidence in all our players, which is crucial when we play in important games."
Malito has been on-form this year, as has Chase Travis on the wing. Travis has been able to exploit the overloads and he continually beats defenders out wide.
"His size is also an advantage because it makes it hard for people to tackle him one-on-one," said Malito, who has set up Travis and other teammates for tries.
"I have assists in the first two games because my mates notice the gaps I create and take advantage of them. This is due in part to our team chemistry leaving everyone in sync with each other," he said.
Up front, lock Justin Kirby is a aggressive and powerful and he is central to the forward pack effort.
All of that will be needed Friday night against Tennessee.