Published October 7, 2010 - 6:00am
NEW: Discuss this topic in the Google+ community for SEC fans.
Saturday Down South takes a look at the biggest stories in SEC football since the inception of the 2010 season. We are almost at the halfway mark, and this year has flown by. Here are the ten biggest stories in SEC football this season:
1. The rise of Cameron Newton:
Cameron Newton has jumped into the driver’s seat as the best quarterback in the conference and maybe the country. His physical presence and athleticism are matched by few. He leads the Auburn Tigers into each battle with an edge. Newton has had a somewhat storied past. He came out of high school as a five-star player and made his way into a Florida program that was loaded at the quarterback position, bought a stolen laptop, went to junior college and ended up at Auburn. Newton has put himself in the thick of the Heisman race here in week six. Has there been a bigger story?
2. The fall of Georgia:
Who would have thought going into week six of college football that Georgia would be sitting belly-up at 1-4 overall and 0-3 in the conference? The Bulldogs’ program has fallen and cannot get up. First, it was the athletic director Damon Evans getting arrested for DUI, and then it spread to the players. Several players have been arrested since last May, with the most recent Demetre Baker being removed from the team. As if that wasn’t enough – losses to South Carolina, Arkansas and Mississippi State have put Mark Richt on the hot seat. Will Georgia be able to salvage their season moving forward? What will happen to Richt? There is much to be decided on in the Georgia athletic program.
3. Alabama’s Invincibility:
With the Tide losing 10 players on defense and all the talk surrounding their young, inexperienced secondary, Alabama and Nick Saban have not missed a beat. They look to be one of the most complete teams in the SEC for the last five-plus years. From a 1-2 punch at running back to a nasty, physical defense – Alabama isn’t going anywhere for a long time. Players are just stepping into an opening in the depth chart and not losing a beat.
4. Florida Gator Offensive Woes:
Whoever said the Gators would be better this year without having to rely on Tim Tebow was just plain wrong. I have a small recollection of saying that myself, but we won’t talk about it. Wow, from snap issues to not having a go-to playmaker and running the option with a pocket-passing quarterback, has there been a team in the SEC that has had as much offensive woes than the Gators? From the outside looking in, it’s almost like offensive coordinator Steve Addazio is so conservative with his play calling that it is holding the Gators back on offense. It can be attributed to a number of things, but one thing is sure – Florida sure has struggled on offense halfway through this year.
5. The Decline of SEC East:
Tim Brando has said since the decline of the SEC East – Florida, Tennessee, and Georgia – Boise State would have a legitimate shot at winning the Eastern crown. While I can’t completely agree with him, I will contend the East is weaker than in the past. However, both Tennessee and Florida are young, but Georgia might have different issues altogether. They do, however, start a young quarterback.
6. LSU’s Inept Offense:
Quarterbacks Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee have been in and out of the lineup all year. Coach Les Miles’ inability to decide on which one to lead his team has left each one struggling to find their rhythm. LSU has receivers all over the field and talent surrounding the football but no way to get it to them. Jordan Jefferson has averaged right at 100 yards per game. Lee took over and led the finishing drive in the Tennessee game last weekend. If LSU could find a quarterback who could just manage the offense somewhat and get the ball to their playmakers, they would be in great shape.
7. The Luckiest Man In The Business:
Hey Las Vegas, meet Mr. Les Miles – the luckiest man in coaching. How about his stunning last-second defeat to Tennessee? If you look on paper, you will see a check in the win column. What you don’t see is how it got to that point. The quarterback got tackled with 26 seconds remaining, clock running, with no timeouts left. Les Miles doesn’t start substituting his players until 16 seconds left in the game. You have to have two plays called in the huddle, Les! Thus, the luckiest man in the business lives to see no marks in the L column entering week six.
8. Ole Miss Rebels Shocked By Jacksonville State:
Ole Miss turned the football over three times, and Jacksonville State took it to them in double overtime to open the season. Houston Nutt called it, “without a doubt the worse loss of my career.” The 21-point lead that Ole Miss had was the largest deficit in which Jacksonville State had ever overcome. Rack it up for another FCS school defeating a FBS team.
9. Few Freshman Are Making An Impact:
There is some great young talent in this conference. South Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore is probably the best looking freshman prospect in the country. He currently has rushed for 366 yards and three touchdowns. Auburn’s Michael Dyer is another good-looking freshman. He has rushed for 334 yards and two touchdowns. Florida’s Trey Burton scored six touchdowns against Kentucky, and he has eight total touchdowns on the year. These three freshmen are making an impact early in their careers.
10. Arkansas Non-existent Run Game:
The Arkansas Razorbacks have the best passing quarterback in the league and probably the country in Ryan Mallett. However, the Hogs have zero run game that can provide any kind of complement or change-up for the offense. They are ranked a mere 102nd in the country in rushing offense. Their leading rusher in Broderick Green averages only 33.50 rushing yards per game. There is no balance for the Hogs at the halfway point.