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.
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