9 biggest takeaways from the SEC’s week 4

MizCrowd

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Week four is in the books, and it’s absurd we’re nearly 30 percent done with the 2013 season. Hold on to your hats, because things are about to get very interesting.

Here are the main takeaways from week four action:

Related: Alabama vs. Colorado State highlights

Lackluster at the top: Three SEC favorites Alabama, LSU and Georgia all had lackluster games. None of the three convinced they should be the outright favorite in the SEC. Alabama struggled at times on offense against Colorado State, as the Tide only mounted 66 yards rushing and was 2-10 on third down in their 31-6 win. LSU jumped out to a blazing 21-0 start against Auburn, but LSU looked bored in the second half and didn’t finish. Auburn had much more energy down the stretch but lost 35-21. And Georgia’s special teams were less than adequate, as North Texas ran back a 99-yard kickoff and blocked a punt for a TD. None of the three looked capable of winning a national championship yesterday.

Related: Three takeaways from Georgia’s win over North Texas

Murphy’s Law: Florida junior QB Tyler Murphy saved the day for the Gators. After Jeff Driskel went down with a season-ending ankle injury on a pick-six, Murphy was more than adequate moving the Florida offense. He finished with 218 total yards and two TDs. Florida’s offense flowed better with Murphy than in the first two games with Driskel. Murphy led the Gators to a 31-17 win and the offense to a perfect 4-4 in the red zone, including three touchdowns. Had Murphy played against Miami, is Florida sitting 3-0?

Related: 5 takeaways from Florida vs. Tennessee

A new East challenger: A team nobody is talking about in the SEC is Missouri. Can they sneak into the SEC East’s third slot? Better yet, with Florida, South Carolina and Tennessee at home, can Mizzou slide into the No. 2 slot in the East? Sure, Indiana may not be a great win, but it’s a good win for a team that’s building confidence. The Tigers mounted 623 total yards, and QB James Franklin is a different player this year. He combined for 404 yards and three TDs, leading the Mizzou to a 45-28 win. But the game ball goes to the defense and Dave Steckel for a big night. Look out for the quiet Tigers.

Showing some grit: Yeah, Tennessee and Auburn looked bad during the first halves, but both showed some grit and desire down the stretch. Tennessee pushed Florida late into the fourth quarter and had a chance to cut the lead to a TD, but they ultimately fell short. Auburn had much more energy to finish than did LSU, and the Vols finished strong and never quit. Each program can take some positives away from their second halves.

Work to do: Arkansas blew a 17-point lead in the second half against a team of similar talent in Rutgers. The Hogs’ defense, which looked so good in nearly three full quarters, was a major letdown, as was their special teams. Rutgers returned a 58-yard punt in the third quarter, and they had another 47-yard return late in the fourth to set up the go-ahead touchdown. Under backup QB AJ Derby, Arkansas only produced 283 total yards and 101 rushing yards, which is surprising for a team that was averaging nearly 300 yards rushing through the first three weeks. For the first time all season, Arkansas couldn’t simply enforce their will on an opponent.

Regression: Vanderbilt’s offense is going backwards. Talk about a disinterested team – had Vanderbilt been playing a more worthy opponent than 0-3 UMass, the Dores would have lost this game. Which way is the offense headed right now? You’re either up or your down, and Vanderbilt isn’t headed up. Next week’s game against UAB will give them yet another tune-up game before Missouri. But if you’re James Franklin, you can’t be happy with the way the Commodores started yesterday. It was lethargic and non-aggressive, and his team looked disinterested.

Aggies’ defense: Johnny Manziel combined for 346 yards and three touchdowns, but let’s talk about the defense. They had been averaging giving up 36 points per game, but they held SMU to 13 points. This was the moniker of last year’s team; the defensive unit got much better as the season progressed, and they improved as a unit. They were flying around better as a team yesterday, and this is an obvious step in the right direction. A big trip to Arkansas looms next week.

Related: Texas A&M vs. SMU highlights

Two trifectas: Mississippi State throttled Troy, which is exactly what they’re supposed to do. Credit Dan Mullen and his team for an offensive explosion after so much criticism and critique over the last week. QB Dak Prescott is growing as a quarterback, and that’s great news for an offense that wasn’t growing at all under Tyler Russell. The most interesting part of this game was that Prescott and WR Jameon Lewis scored TDs three different ways. Prescott threw for one, ran for two and caught a TD pass from Lewis on a trick play, but Lewis matched it with three of his own — one rushing, one receiving and one passing. Has that ever happened in NCAA history?

Related: MSU vs. Troy highlights

Jeremy Hill: Georgia’s Todd Gurley is the best running back in the country, but LSU’s Jeremy Hill may give him a run for his money. It’s Jeremy Hill, not TJ Yeldon, who’s emerging as the No. 2 back in the SEC. Behind his 25 carries for 183 yards and three TDs, can he challenge Gurley for best in the SEC? Hill looked unstoppable against Auburn, averaging 7.3 yards per carry. He scored on runs of 49, 10 and 6 yards. Hill vs. Gurley ensues in Athens next week.

Related: LSU vs. Auburn highlights

Photo Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

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COMMENTS

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  • You should have also mentioned that a good portion of the crowd left after halftime which prolly didn’t help LSU in the energy department also think Miles ,and Cameron Possibly knew they had it mostly in the bag ,and felt no need to show more of thier hand than was needed.. After all we have Georgia next weekend.. Why give them more on tape to watch when you have the game in hand.. I do give Auburn a thumbs up for their effort though..

  • Jon you flip flop more on Missouri than a bass loose in a flat bottom boat. more than a Republican in a blue state. careful Jon you’re going to fall off the fire Pinkel bandwagon! who predicted the Missouri would go to Georgia defeated? oh that’s right it was me, only me and no one else but me. also said Vanderbilt and Ole Miss won’t have as good a season as last year. Missouri will post a .500 record in the SEC. not great but better.

    • that was go to Georgia undefeated!

    • Zoucat – How am I flip flopping? There’s still two more games before you get to Georgia undefeated, and by all indications that will happen, as evidenced by the way Vanderbilt is playing right now. In college football, you’re only as good as your last week. And Missouri played well against Indiana. I give all teams their due when they have great games. Isn’t the beauty of college football that every week is a playoff and you’re only as good as your last week?

      • who was the first team you picked as an upset bid this week? and I knew that before I even opened the article to read it. granted they’re hard to get a read on after that season last year. but that’s not who Missouri is. you say something positive one article and then cancel that with your next article. nonetheless Jon, you’re still probably my favorite read. I look to see what your writing every day. SDS it’s definitely the best source for the SEC info.

      • Don’t let him get you down Jon, this guy is fired up bout his team beating 3 cupcakes. When Sec play starts mizzou will be getting handled just like last year.

  • Something you have to keep in mind with the AL game is that Colorado State’s head coach, Jim McElwain, coached under Nick Saban, as the offensive coordinator, for 3 years. He knows Saban’s game. He knows his defense, and he is part of the reason for 2 of Alabama’s National Championships. He’s a great coach.

  • Zoucat and Jon, 1. prayers for gator-Driskel speedy and 100% recovery. 2. BigTenNetwork sportscenter opinions a) Fri. Sept. 20: “Missouri has a weak defense, Both teams will score above their averages of 50 points” b) Sun. Sept. 22, “What was coach Kevin Wilson thinking scheduling a team as tough as Missouri”. 3. If you look at media and Missouri football as a whole, there is a reality disconnect ie#1 Arizona State and UCF being ranked higher despite Missouri beating them last meeting. ie#2 selective memory that forgeting that Missouri was ahead of Georgia and Florida and Vanderbilt last year with as much as one-quarter of their starters seriously injured. 3. Jon must feel like the lone ranger when he tries to look at Missouri’s performance objectively, there is something in SEC writers that has to promote Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. (and they HATE aTm for forcing recognition). I’m ok with Jon looking at the positive and negative sides of EVERY program. Zoucat I appreciate your big picture viewpoint as well. Two more fun things here, pull up Indiana’s 2012 record and think about how much media attention Ohio State and Northwestern (3 point margins) got. Now look again at the margin of victory Missouri 45 vs Indiana 28. Contrast Missouri trying not to score more points against Murray State/Toledo compared to the shameful displays of sportsmanship on the field this past weekend. Then we have to watch the media with Urban Meyer after the game and not one reporter has the decentcy to even ask, ? how did you let the scoring get out of hand? Compare this with Missouri having the most total yards of offense in history at Indiana. If there is anything quiet about Missouri beside the people who write about them, it is that the program has alway been a class act. CONGRATULATION COACH PINKEL ON TYING LEGEND DAN DEVINE

  • Alabama did look sluggish against Colorado St, but that shouldn’t be interpreted into a broader criticism of them. They just came off a game against A&M where they scored 49 points so to suggest that they have not done anything to establish themselves as the SEC favorite is to have a very short memory.

  • You’re right about the big 3. None looked like national championship teams this past week. LSU definitely looked better than the other two, but we shouldn’t look too deep into it. It’s hard anyway for a big dog to get up for a battle with a little dog. Also, I believe UGA was looking ahead to the LSU game this week. I believe bama was still recovering from the A&M game, and quite possibly looking ahead to a very talented and improved Ole Miss team. LSU looked strong in the first half, but stepped off the gas in the second half. Florida may have found the answer to their season with Driskel going out. I hate it for him, and wish him the absolute best in recovery, but what a job by Murphy!! With the dominant defense we have, all we need is an average qb that can score a few points, and keep turnovers down. Murphy may be that guy.Arkansas needed a win this week probably more than any other team in the conference. They have a tough next 4 weeks. Missouri is looking better every week. They still haven’t played an SEC team, but there’s no doubt they are a different team than they were last year. Two games I’m looking forward to most this week are Georgia/LSU and Bama/Ole Miss

    • Wes, It’s inevitable that the margins for some of the top teams are going to narrow. Opponents study their unchanging systems….so I would be cautious about discounting their rankings. Missouri is getting better but the media discounted Toledo too much, that was a quality win and margin, and Indiana can beat anybody in the Big Ten on any given week. Yes Georgia v LSU and AL v Miss are classic ‘new season’ tests.

  • I’m a lot more worried about Jeremy Hill than I am Mettenberger. Mett looked good, but Auburn was not his coming out party. He also wasn’t “exposed” as I thought he might be. He just looked level. Hill, on the other hand, looked dominant. Essentially, we’re going to need a South Carolina-game type performance to win again. Problem is, I think LSU’s offense and defense is better. I’m worried.

  • I don’t care if Jeremy Hill runs for 300 yards against us he’s not the better back…for one thing they have a better Defense than we do. Another thing is on most of the runs I saw he wasn’t even touched at the line of scrimmage and had more big holes than Les Mile’s Disciplinary Policy. And finally we all know that while Todd Gurley has assumed a leadership role and been named captain as a true sophomore, Jeremy Hill has a rap sheet a mile long and video evidence of him being a coward and a thug. I constantly am told how little the stats matter when judging QB play…but here it seems that because Hill and LSU eat up rushing stats all of a sudden he’s in the same class as TG3…NO WAY JOSE!

  • Wolfman my only knock against Pinkel is when he took his foot off of the neck of Nebraska when we had a good opportunity to repay them for some of the embarrassing scores they laid on us in the past. and we didn’t really let up on anybody too early this year he just took the opportunity to play his 2s and 3s to help with our lack of depth and it’s beginning to pay off.

  • Jon, Props for the Mizzou article. I know its hard for anyone to be objective when it comes to relative newcomers such as the Tigers from up north. Just keep watching them, I truly believe they will surprise many of the naysayers as well as sportswriters who continually overlook the talent over in Columbia Missouri. I’ve been a Mizzou fan (during good and bad years) since 1961 and will die a Mizzou fan. I became a supporter of Alabama when they decided to give my daughter a full-ride academic scholarship…surely you can understand that. Glad they are in different divisions of the SEC…less chance of dividing my “loyalties.”

  • your daughters not going to play football for Alabama. so there really shouldn’t be any question about who your pulling for there. I seen where she decided on Alabama few days ago. looks like her best opportunity to play on a bigger stage. I wish her great success. . . . in the classroom