What Happened To You On Saturday: Week 4

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The #1 Monday morning recap article for SEC Fans… Pulling no punches as we recap a weekend of SEC football action…

Related: 9 biggest takeaways from the weekend

LSU is the Real Deal

LSU is the most balanced team in the SEC.  They are crazy balanced.  Balanced to the tune of 229 yards passing and 227 yards rushing.  The only thing that is unbalanced on their entire team is the slightly insane Les Miles, but he’s the kind of unbalanced that tends to make everything more awesome.  Despite the Perfect Storm rolling into Death Valley on Saturday night, the balanced Tigers proved too much for a scrappy Auburn team and have firmly planted themselves as legit National Title contenders and perhaps even the best team in the SEC.

If you think that statement is crazy you’ll only have to wait a week to see if you’re right or wrong because on Saturday, LSU heads to Athens to square off against Georgia where the Bulldogs should be very worried about LSU’s balance.  The Tigers might not have Texas A&M’s offense or Florida’s defense but they have a better combination of the two than anyone else in the conference.

Jeremy Hill was attacking Auburn’s defense like they were a stumbling drunk in the parking lot at 4 am. One hundred and eighty-three yards and three touchdowns means next Saturday’s game in Athens will likely determine the best running back in the SEC.

Next week’s Georgia – LSU game will be must watch TV for any college football fan.

Despite the loss, Auburn fans should be very excited with the direction of the program.  The team was back to showing the kind of toughness we always saw in the old Auburn.  After the game Head Coach Gus Malzahn said, “Our kids didn’t quit and they’re not going to quit.  I’m very proud of our guys and with that attitude they’ll have a chance to improve.”  That is the perfect approach needed when you are trying to change the culture of an entire program and after seeing how Auburn responded to a big deficit, on the road, in terrible weather; I believe Auburn’s players share Malzahn’s vision.

I’m looking forward to the Auburn – Ole Miss match-up in two weeks.  It should be called the We’ll Matter Next Year Bowl.

Related: Current SEC team stats

Gators Lose Driskel, Might Be Better as a Result

If you watched the first half of the Florida – Tennessee game you probably aren’t reading this article because you no longer have the gift of sight after stabbing your eyes out.  The first four drives of the game result in a dropped punt attempt by Florida Punter Kyle Christy, a fumble by Tennessee  RB Rajion Neal, a pick six by Florida Quarterback Jeff Driskel, a successful punt by Florida punter Kyle Christy (a rare highlight) and a fumble by Tennessee Quarterback Nathan Peterman.  That was the first quarter (sigh).  These two offensive offensives combined for an additional four turnovers in the second quarter.  Trust me when I tell you that it looked WAAAAAAAAAAAAAY worse than it sounds.

Related: Watch Saturday’s comedy of errors between Tennessee and Florida

Remember the Tennessee pick six I mentioned?  Well, that also happens to be the last throw Jeff Driskel will make this season after breaking his right tibia on the play.  Disaster, right?  Florida is losing the former #1 quarterback recruit in the country, who last season, led the team to a 11-2 record with wins over LSU, South Carolina and Florida State.  They are losing the guy they built this offense around after he won the quarterback race over Jacoby Brissett, who has since transferred, leaving only Tyler Murphy, whose only career pass coming into the Tennessee game was on a failed two-point conversion in the loss against Miami.  Florida is screwed, right?

Wrong.  In fact there is a good chance Florida will be a better team going forward.

The reason the Gators might be better going forward is Tyler Murphy.  Following Driskel’s injury, Murphy was able to turn a 7-0 deficit into a 17-7 Halftime lead, sometimes looking electric, oftentimes playing the role of game manager.  It’s game manager Tyler Murphy I’m more interested in, and the reason I think he’ll be a better quarterback going forward.

Driskel has all the physical abilities that will get you into the first round of the NFL draft.  He’s big, strong, fast and has a big arm.  What he doesn’t have is the instincts and understanding of the position needed to take full advantage of his physical gifts.  His turnover tendencies had turned him into a liability this season for the Gators.  With three interceptions and two fumbles through nine quarters Driskel has hurt the Gators more than he has helped.  Even on the play he was injured on Driskel wasn’t hit and hurt while throwing, he was hit, decided to still try to throw, and then he was hurt as Tennessee’s Devaun Swafford was already making his way back to the end zone for a free touchdown.  The injury was unfortunate, but it’s also the kind of play we’ve come to expect from 2013 Jeff Driskel.

In his three and a half quarters of football, Tyler Murphy showed a better ability to move the ball down the field on long, time consuming drives than Driskel has this season.  Murphy instinctively ran when the play allowed it and showed a better arm than anyone expected to see.  We haven’t seen a backup come in and change a game like this since Johnny Moxin took over at quarterback after Lance Harbor’s injury for the West Canaan High Coyotes.

More importantly, aside from a miscommunication on a shotgun snap, Murphy didn’t turn the ball over.  This allowed Florida to eat up clock and rest their defense.  Oh, I forgot to mention them. Yeah, FLORIDA HAS THE BEST DEFENSE IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL. It’s not even close. Led by defensive linemen Dante Fowler and Dominique Easley, Florida’s defense is so good that if they can have an offense that simply doesn’t give points to the other team, Florida will probably win.They require a game manager and Tyler Murphy looks to be that quarterback… but if he gets hurt, Florida should just start punting on 1st down.

As for Tennessee… yeah, it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better. Holy turnovers. But, hey, Pig Howard looked great!

Related: 5 takeaways from Tennessee/Florida

Alabama Doesn’t Look Like Alabama

Alabama led Colorado State 17-6 going into the fourth quarter?  Despite being 3-0, the defending champions have yet to play a complete football game.  Last week it was a questionable defense, and this week, it was a questionable offense. Sure, this was the week after a tough game against A&M, but that not an excuse, especially considering how bad Colorado State is. Alabama amassed 338 total yards after Colorado State’s three previous opponents, Colorado, Tulsa and Cal-Poly averaged 434 yards.  Yeah, something called Cal-Poly put up more yards on Colorado State than the #1 team in the country.  Alabama is playing just poor enough that this Ole Miss might give them a game.

Is Georgia Looking Ahead?  Hopefully

On Saturday Georgia found themselves tied in the second half to the what, 11th best team in Texas?  This game was actually pretty close in the fourth quarter when North Texas, down 14, recovered a Todd Gurley fumble on Georgia’s 34 yard line.  Four plays later North Texas oddly punted from their own 35 yard line instead of trying to win the game or something.  Georgia scored two touchdowns late to make the game a look like a decent win, but it probably wasn’t what Georgia fans were hoping for with LSU coming to town next week.

Aaron Murray became just the second player in SEC history to throw for more than 100 touchdowns (102), trailing only record holder, Florida’s Danny Wuerfful (114).  None of it will matter if he can’t beat his former backup Zach Mettenberger next week in Athens.

Related: 3 takeaways from Georgia/North Texas

A&M’s Defense Showing Signs of Life?

Texas A&M’s defense looked improved against a decent SMU offense on Saturday.  We’ve all been patiently waiting to see if A&M’s defense could advance from ‘Game Costingly Terrible’ we saw against Alabama to ‘Not that bad’.  They are heading in the right direction, holding Garrett Gilbert to 310 yard one touchdown and one interception.  310 yards seems like a lot but SMU threw the ball 62 times and typically do so pretty effectively.  If the Aggie defense can somehow get to a point where they are passable, then the team might not lose another game this year.

That’s because they have the best player in college football. Johnny Manziel continues his quest for back-to-back Heisman’s with 346 total yards and three touchdowns. With each fantastic performance, the silliness surrounding autographs, partying and Uncle Nate fades further out of the minds of everyone.

Nice Win for Mizzou

They don’t get mentioned a lot, but Missouri had a nice win on Saturday. Sure, Indiana is one of the worst teams in the Big 10, but Missouri, led by another strong offensive performance, traveled to Bloomington and smoked the Hoosiers.  We can sit here after the fact and say they should have won big, but going into the game, some thought Indiana was on a similar level with Missouri.  That’s not the case.  Anytime you go on the road out of conference it can be tricky. Way not to embarrass the conference. That’s more than we can say about…

Arkansas… What the hell?

Rutgers?  Really?  You needed this win, guys.  Looking at your schedule, I don’t think you’ll have another chance.

Plays That Mattered

Jeremy Hill finally looks like Jeremy Hill the football player again instead of Jeremy Hill the off-the-field sketchball.  If bad Jeremy can go away, good Jeremy will make a lot of money one day.

Fast forward above video to 37 seconds: Filling in for an injured Jeff Driskel, Tyler Murphy connects with Solomon Patton for a 52 yard touchdown.  Once Driskel goes out all of a sudden Florida’s receivers suddenly look explosive.  Weird, right?

Aaron Murray has done this more than every other quarterback in the SEC not named Danny Wuerfful.  Here he throws it as far as possible and lets Rocket Boy Reggie Davis stretch his legs a little bit.  That dude is fast.  Longest passes in school history are cool.

What They Meant to Say

“Tyler Murphy looked good today but he’ll need more reps to gain confidence and get more comfortable back there.  The good news is that the best way to gain confidence and comfort is to play Kentucky and Arkansas and that’s what we have coming up on the schedule, am I right? BOOM! Get roasted, Kenny Rogers Chickens!” – Will Muschamp, Head Coach, University of Florida

“Yeah, we just paid North Texas $975,000 to make us look terrible for three quarters.” – Mark Richt, Head Coach, University of Georgia

“I don’t want to move again, I don’t. But if these bastards don’t starting looking like how Nick Saban Alabama teams are supposed to look, then I’m packing up and moving to Austin.  I love live music.  I worked with Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side, I’m already in with the cool kids.  Oh, and they’ll give me a trillion dollars.  These fools better start playing ball.” – Nick Saban, Head Coach, University of Alabama

“So Arian Foster said when he played here he couldn’t afford to eat so Phillip Fulmer took him and a few others out and ordered 50 tacos.  That’s the big evidence that we committed NCAA violations?  I mean, have you seen Phil Fulmer?  50 tacos is a typical night out.  They called him Fat Phil!  Sounds to me that Arian just ganked some of Fulmer’s dinner.”   – Butch Jones, Head Coach, University of Tennessee

”Remember when I said I was going to Texas?  I was totally kidding, Alabama fans.  Just Old Nick, joking around, again. (Off Air) “Did that sound real?  What Was I thinking? I don’t need these lunatics poisoning my trees.” – Nick Saban, Head Coach, University of Alabama

Photo Credit: Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

REFERENCES

COMMENTS

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  • I really think Florida is set up to beat Georgia and South Carolina better with Murphy than with Driskel. Had Driskel played the full game Saturday, the game would have been much closer. The shotgun snap and Murphy’s fumbled snap near the goal line will get figured out, and to have such a tough schedule, it’s setting up perfectly for Murphy to get confidence and hone his game with KY and ARK in the next 2 weeks. Georgia and Carolina fans can’t tell me they feel more confident with Murphy than Driskel.

    • I agree, MAD. Driskel must have only gotten the start over Murphy because of experience and consistency. Murphy is more dynamic and is just the type of QB to give UGA fits. At the same time, I see Murphy as playing more erratically once D’s discover his weaknesses. Tenn didn’t have the luxury of preparing for him and I think that is why he looked much better. Time will tell, though. He may end up being a player.

      • I agreee with you, Dawg. I have read articles since back in June and July about how much the coaches liked Murphy and how efficient he was. Just figured it was all talk anyhow. But from that performance, he may have been the better one all along. Experience may be what won driskel the job. But as you said, Tennessee had not prepared for him. But I also think him and Driskel are pretty similar in their play style. Time will tell. But it couldn’t have happened at a better time considering we have Kentucky and Arkansas the next two weeks before making the trip down to Baton Rouge.

  • Congrats on the win, MAD. Had we had a competent QB, we should have been up 21-0 after that early botched punt and pick-six. Damn, have we got a LONG way to go.

    • Y’all had some tough breaks. But y’all definitely have one of the best linebackers in the league. Wish I could’ve gotten a dime every time I heard his name on the loud speaker

  • I agree that Driskel goin down probably helps more than hurts the gators but I still have Georgia favored in that game. Florida still have to get that run defense worked out or Georgia is just goin to run all over em again. Murphy can’t harrass the dawgs defense if he is on the sidelines.

    • Get the run defense worked out? Florida hasn’t allowed any team to reach 70yds rushing this season…

      Admittedly they’re going to be facing a better rushing duo than they’ll see all year, but it’s a strength vs. strength matchup, not something the Gators need to worry about fixing.

    • What defense are you looking at?? Florida leads the nation in rush defense.

  • Wallace, this is a good over-all article. On Missouri, look at the 2012 Indiana record, they were an ‘average team in the Big 10, not ‘worst. Last year Missouri made the SEC look good against Arizona State-pac 12 bowl reps. and UCF conf. champ bowl rep.. So saying ‘way to not embarrass’ is an understatement isn’t it? Missouri has at least an average non-conf. schedule and is near the top of every one of Jon’s statistics catagories. There are 14 teams in the SEC, unless these teams are getting beat by 3 or more touchdowns by bad non-conference opponents it’s too early to write discouragingly about them.

  • Georgia actually didn’t look “terrible” for 3 quarters. They did have a couple of “terrible” special teams breakdowns though. I would grade their units on Saturday like this…

    Offense – B
    Defense – A-
    Special teams – F

  • The LSU/ UGA game will determine who the best RB in the SEC is? seriously? Jeremy Hill is not only a piece of shit but he is nowhere near the RB TG3 is…C’mon Man

    • Jeremy Hill may have some character flaws indeed, but he’s pretty dang good on the field. I’m still going with TG3 though.

      • Hes garbage…and it’s a joke that hes even allowed on the field. I think LSU has success with anyone running the ball. Looked like The auburn defense never even got close to him until he was in the secondary.

  • MIZZOU has no business being in the SEC. We should’ve taken Clemson or Texas.

    • I’m going to take it easy on you, and if you are a man you will give the real reason why you are a Missouri hater. Here is the easy part on you. Every SEC president, Athletic Director, and probably football coach was involved in the SEC expansion project. Do you think they just picked a name out of a hat? Who do you think is closer to knowing how to build a great conference? a) the present SEC administrators b) the texas lowborns who broke up the Southwest conference before they caused the Big 12 to go from #2 to #5 in football, or c) you with your long list of supporting evidence for taking a program from a small state that already has an SEC program?

    • Yomammasofat, SERIOUSLY??? Have you looked at Missouri’s record over the past 5-10 years? Before you open mouth and insert foot again (not sure how you do that with your head up your…well), you may want to do that. Granted, last year was an anomoly due to a host of injuries on the O-line and no true backup QB, but that is NOT the case this year. I’m not saying they are the best team in the SEC; however, they are a far cry from what happened last year and actually be 3rd in the East this year as opposed to what happened during the 2012/13 season.

  • I agree with you on LSU. and I’m certainly looking forward to the Georgia LSU game as a defining moment for either team. I also agree with you to Florida maybe better off. and then you went way off into lala land. sure everybody knows Missouri is better than Kentucky and Mississippi State. but I’m telling you they’re also better than Arkansas and Auburn. they’re better than sandy and probably better than Ole Miss. have you seen the Big Ten this year? Indian is not the worst team in the Big 10. hell have you seen any college football this year?

    • Sloooooow down, Zoucat. Why is Indiana anything other than “one of the worst teams in the Big 10″? They are 2-2 and before getting smoked by Missouri they lost to Navy. What did you see in their wins against Indiana State and Bowling Green that has made you so passionately believe that they are anything other than “one of the worst teams in the Big 10″?

  • LSU is the ‘Real Deal’? You’re overthinking this. It’s still Alabama, stop trying to look beyond the defending champs. Alabama won ‘the biggest game of the year’ in College Station, but apparently we’re already bored with that and ready to hand the crown to LSU whose biggest win is what? TCU (1-2)? Unranked Auburn?
    You have to give the nod to Bama until LSU plays (and beats) somebody good. If A&M had beaten Bama, you’d be saying A&M was the greatest team on the planet, but Bama won and now the best team is LSU? Logic train…

    • LOGIC TRAIN: Is Alabama as good as they were last year? NO. They aren’t quite as good and have yet to play a complete game versus ANYbody.

      Is LSU as good as last year? NO. They are BETTER than last year’s squad i would say. They took a hit on defense sure but it is still a good/decent defense at worst and their offense is MUCH improved and extremely balanced.

      Remember LSU vs Alabama last year? LSU had the game won until Alabama had a heroic and epic comeback at the end to win so. So essentially the teams were very nearly equal in skill. This year LSU is up and Bama is down…. So logically speaking… LSU > Alabama

      • My whole point was that you are judging LSU to be better based upon their wins against unranked opponents. Alabama played Texas A&M (remember when everyone thought they were the best team in the country?) and won on the road. Until LSU plays a game of that magnitude, you can’t say they are better.