The #1 Monday morning recap article for SEC Fans… Pulling no punches as we recap a weekend of SEC football action…
Contenders and Pretenders Weekend
“Boy, that escalated quickly. I mean, that really got out of hand, fast.” – Ron Burgundy
What a weekend. What a mess. It was fun, but what a mess.
Here is what I think I learned this weekend:
Alabama and LSU are the Best in the West
Alabama’s schedule has been largely pathetic but they have used the first half of their two month long training camp between the Texas A&M and LSU game to figure out their defense. I’m mainly basing that on the Ole Miss win because none of the other teams can score against air. We’re also seeing some signs that the Tide’s offense is starting to look as dangerous as everyone expected them to look at the start of the season. T.J. Yeldon has the running game going, finally, as shown with this 124 yard two touchdown performance against Kentucky. A.J. McCarron is, well, the same as he’s always been: good and safe. If 2012 Amari Cooper ever shows up look out! They still have another month of warm-ups before LSU comes to town, so maybe he has plenty of time to work it out.
LSU’s offense continues to impress. On Saturday they controlled the game against what might be the best defense they’ll play all season, in the Florida Gators. Equally importantly, the defense was improved after looking remarkably unimpressive for most of the season. Now, that may have had more to do with Will Muschamp hating offense than it did LSU’s defense flipping a switch but, hey, you take what you can get.
I really don’t know who will win that game on November 9th, in Tuscaloosa, but if I had to guess who will win the SEC West I’m sticking with Alabama. LSU could quite possibly beat Alabama and lose the next week to A&M, thus giving the West to Alabama, who again, only has one lose-able regular season game left on their super soft schedule.
South Carolina is a Beast in the SEC East.
When Connor Shaw is healthy, that is. With Shaw playing, the Gamecocks are the most balanced team in the SEC East. Running back Mike Davis is a superstar and despite the drama surrounding Jadeveon Clowney, their defense is getting better.
On Saturday, South Carolina played their best game of the season with a 52-7 win over Arkansas in Fayetteville. Connor Shaw was fantastic, combining for four touchdowns in the air and on the ground. Davis continues to be the most consistent running back in the conference with his typical 128 yard, one touchdown performance. Those two guys allowed South Carolina to control the ball for 43:25 compared to Arkansas 16:35. It was total domination. South Carolina is figuring things out at the right time but is it enough to get back into the SEC East hunt? It should be because…
Georgia is Broken
The offensive injuries combined with a terrible defense make Georgia very vulnerable against everyone else they play this season. They barely beat a bad Tennessee team last week on the road and got crushed by a good Missouri team at home on Saturday, 41-26. Aaron Murray looked tired. The physical and mental exhaustion of carrying the entire University on his back finally broke him. Georgia’s defense continues to be a dumpster fire, as they made it very clear early on in the Missouri game that they have no intentions of stepping up their level of play in an effort to make up for all the offensive injuries.
Georgia’s schedule is manageable going forward, but @ Vanderbilt will be a challenge. Florida in Jacksonville will be a challenge. Hell, even the road game to Auburn now looks like a real challenge. Todd Gurley will be back at it soon but I’m not sure he and Murray are enough to make up for their defensive limitations. Regardless of a potential SEC East championship or even an unlikely SEC Championship, Georgia’s BCS Title dreams have been dashed.
Related: 11 biggest takeaways from Saturday
Missouri is Nice, But James Franklin is Hurt, Again
Even before Missouri could celebrate their biggest win in their brief history in the SEC, their magical run was over. Quarterback James Franklin, who has looked great all season and again on Saturday in Athens, was standing on the sidelines with his arm in a sling, with what we later learned was a separated shoulder. It was a good win for Gary Pinkel and Missouri, but without Franklin they won’t be a real player in the SEC East. They control their own destiny and host both Florida and South Carolina, but winning both games with backup Maty Mauk would be shocking.
He’s a good quarterback, but James Franklin just hasn’t proven he can withstand SEC defenses.
Will Muschamp Still Doesn’t Get It
On Saturday Will Muschamp proved that he learned absolutely nothing from the loss earlier in the year to Miami. The Gators rode their ultra conservative offense to two field goals against an LSU defense that has looked shaky all season. In three of their last four losses (I’m not counting the Sugar Bowl Loss to Louisville, where half the Gators defense had already declared for the NFL draft) against Miami and LSU this season and Georgia last season, Florida has scored only one touchdown, and that one touchdown came with 2:08 left in the 4th quarter against Miami in a game that was already over. These aren’t great defenses that are shutting the Gators down; this is Florida running and executing a frightened offense. Muschamp is afraid of turnovers like Howard Hughes is afraid of germs. The fear has crippled this team. The best defense in the country means absolutely nothing if you are too scared to try to score points.
With all that said, Florida can actually still win the SEC East. They have a James Franklin-less Missouri next week and broken Georgia after that. Their defense IS elite. If Muschamp can take a look at these losses and learn something, there is still a chance that the SEC East will be decided on November 16 in Columbia, South Carolina.
Oh, and Johnny Manziel is the Best Player in America
Who needs a defense when you have Johnny Football? Manziel continued his ridiculous statistical existence with nearly 500 total yards on his own in a shootout win against Ole Miss. On the year Manziel has 19 total TD’s and only five interceptions and despite whatever madness Lou Holtz is spitting, Manziel is the best and the most valuable player in the country.
2nd Worst Stoops of the Week
Despite Kentucky losing by 41 at home, Mark Stoops wasn’t the most disappointing Stoops of the weekend. That title goes to Big Game Bob, who somehow managed to lose to Mack Brown only moments before the mortician came in with the embalming fluids. Stoops, who has been highly critical of SEC defenses this season, somehow managed to give up 36 to a Texas offense that only managed 23 against Ole Miss in Austin. I’m sure his apology is coming, SEC defenses. The good news for Mark Stoops is nobody even noticed his terrible loss to Alabama as they were all too busy laughing at Bob.
Plays That Mattered
LSU’s J.C. Copeland takes it in from the one yard line on the first play in the second quarter and because Florida hates offense, this ended up being the game winner.
Johnny Football looking like, well, Johnny Football. This would tie up the game in the 4th and A&M would go on to hit the game winning field goal on their next possession.
Bud Sasser hits L’Damian Washington for a 40 yard Touchdown on the Trick play. This is the kind of stuff you have to do after your quarterback’s arm falls off.
What They Meant To Say
“I’m tired, man. I’ve never heard of this white dude I’m handing the ball off to. My receivers are sharing ACL’s. Our defense is… I don’t have the words. And the whole time I’m out there I’m thinking, ‘Why didn’t Richt let me spike the ball last year against Alabama?’ I could be starting for like half of the NFL tomorrow.” – Aaron Murray, Quarterback, University of Georgia
“I look forward to asking my clown brother his theory on why an SEC defense like Ole Miss was able to dominate Texas and his Sooners got smoked. He’s had a lot of theories lately, so this should be a good one… What an idiot.” – Mark Stoops, Head Coach, University of Kentucky
“I tell my players all the time, ‘Never, ever, turn the ball over.’ That’s all I tell them. I’d rather them punt on 2nd down than throw a jump ball to a wide receiver. A running back that breaks a tackle is just making himself more likely to fumble in the future. I teach my guys to go down on first contact, take a three and out and we’ll try to block a punt. So…I don’t know why we keep losing.” – Will Muschamp, Head Coach, University of Florida
“I wonder if this is how Psy felt after he recorded Gangam Style? Do you think he instantly knew he was going to be a one-hit wonder?” – Gary Pinkel, Head Coach, University of Missouri