Every Monday, we’ll be looking at Saturday superlatives. We’ll recognize the teams and players who stood out before we officially turn the page to next Saturday…but we’ll also recognize the most disappointing units of the entire weekend.
Best game: South Carolina at Georgia
South Carolina-Georgia delivered a heavyweight brawl that ultimately ended with Georgia shredding the Carolina defense. But for three and a half quarters, these two traded punches like Ali-Frazier in ‘75. It was a game of runs, as Georgia took the early 17-3 lead, only to see Carolina make it 24-24 at halftime. Aaron Murray made the big play to Justin Scott-Wesley for the final nail, an 85-yard TD pass. The SEC’s most underrated rivalry delivered again, and so did the game’s most scrutinized player, Aaron Murray. How did Georgia lose to Clemson again?
Most impressive team(s): LSU and Georgia
Georgia and LSU were Saturday’s impressive teams. Both can patch things up on defense, but the offenses are explosive. The Bulldogs threw up a 41 spot on South Carolina, while LSU put up 56 against UAB behind Zach Mettenberger’s school-record five touchdown passes. And lucky for us SEC fans, these two teams will hit each other in the mouth in just three weeks, in what is quickly becoming one of the most anticipated and most important SEC games of the season.
Best Offense: Georgia
Relative to the competition, Georgia’s offense was the most explosive. I know TAMU put up 65 against Sam Houston State, but South Carolina was a top three defense in the SEC last season. Hats off to you, Mike Bobo, after another impressive game with your (boring) offense putting up serious numbers. Five hundred and thirty eight yards of total offense even has Steve Spurrier adding his two cents to Carolina defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward.
Best Defense: Florida
For as bad as Florida’s offense played, the Gators’ defense is nasty. The defensive line, linebackers and the secondary settled down after Miami scored two quick touchdowns in the first quarter. Florida allowed 143 total yards in the first quarter, and Miami was held to 69 yards in the final three quarters. DT Dominique Easley and company really disrupted Miami’s offense and held Duke Johnson to just 59 yards and 2.8 yards per carry. They are dominant, but can they get any offensive help?
Biggest immediate concern: Texas A&M’s run defense
Texas A&M’s defense is 13th in total defense and 14th in run defense heading into Alabama week. After giving up 509 yards last week to Rice, Sam Houston State mounted 390 total yards this week. We know the offense can score, but teams are averaging over 273 yards rushing per game. That won’t win an SEC Championship, and it won’t beat Alabama, will it? That offense is putting up some serious numbers though, and Johnny Manziel will be ready for Alabama.
Biggest letdown: Florida’s offense
Talk about a letdown. Florida played one of the worst offensive performances in recent memory. The box score tells of an unexplainable Florida showing. The Gators dominated time of possession, yardage and most other lines, as well as the seemingly reoccurring line of penalties. Florida committed 10 for 70 yards, doubling Miami’s penalties, and it continues to be a staple of the Muschamp era. The offense isn’t good enough to overcome poor penalties. Then, throw in five turnovers and there’s no chance. The Gators exited the game 1-6 in the redzone, while Muschamp’s post-game criticism went toward the defense.
Best offensive player: Georgia QB Aaron Murray
This was a feel-good game for Murray. Amid all the criticism regarding his record against top 10 opponents, Murray gets redemption by smoking the Gamecocks and putting up 41 points. Murray threw for 309 yards and four TDs, a great performance against a good defense.
Best defensive player: Kentucky DE Za’Darius Smith
Miami (OH) was a terrible team, but credit DE Za’Darius Smith with three sacks. Smith, the JUCO transfer, had a career day and currently leads the SEC with four sacks.
All-purpose animal: LSU WR/KR Odell Beckham
We are witnessing a star in the making with LSU’s Odell Beckham. He combined for 331 all-purpose yards against UAB, coming off of 272 yards against TCU in the first week. Beckham recorded five receptions for 136 yards, and he added a 109-yard missed field goal return. It was an all-around incredible performance for one of the SEC’s biggest breakout players in 2013.
Feel-good performance: Kentucky
Hats of to Kentucky’s 675 yards of total offense and Mark Stoops’ first win as a head coach. A win against Louisville this week, and he can run for office.
Biggest unknowns: Arkansas, Missouri and Tennessee
We still don’t know much about Arkansas, Missouri and Tennessee thus far. The Hogs play Rutgers in two weeks, and Missouri doesn’t play an SEC game for three weeks. Tennessee plays Oregon next week and Florida the week after.
Celebrated performance: Shon Coleman, Auburn
Shon Coleman made his long-awaited appearance since being diagnosed with leukemia in March 2010, and he helped lead a TD drive in the fourth quarter. The former five-star tackle’s journey ended the way he wanted — on the field.
Photo Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports