The #1 Monday morning recap article for SEC Fans… Pulling no punches as we recap a weekend of SEC football action…
Connor Shaw: American Hero
Connor Shaw walked up to Steve Spurrier, with his team trailing 17-0 with under seven minutes remaining in the third quarter, and said, “Coach, I’m only at 66 percent, but that’s still better than a healthy Dylan Thompson.” Well, not in those exact words, but basically. Spurrier went with instinct and let the fragile footballer try to save the Gamecocks’ season. Oh, and he did.
Shaw is a very good quarterback and the most enjoyable to watch (Non-Manziel Division) in the conference. The problem is his bones are hollow and his joints are held together with yarn and old Juicy Fruit. He’s listed at 6-1 209, but in reality, he is closer to 4-9 77 lbs. The breakdown of those 77 pounds: 41 pounds of heart, 30 pounds of testicles, and the remaining 6 is the aforementioned hollow bones. He’s completely hairless. But when he’s physically able to play, he’s everything fans love about college football. On Saturday night with the season on the line, Connor Shaw was the best he’s ever been.
Perseverance was the theme of the day for South Carolina. The Gamecocks moved the ball well throughout the first half, but fumbles from their sensational young running back, Mike Davis — one actually as he was going into the end zone — left the Gamecocks scoreless in the first half. Spurrier knew how much he’d need Davis and never wavered. While Missouri was doing Missouri things (96 yard touchdown passes, etc…) South Carolina stayed focused on the road and didn’t let this turn into a blowout, giving up only three points in the second half.
This game will be remembered for one play, though. After Missouri quickly scored a touchdown on the first possession in overtime, South Carolina faced 4th and goal from the 15-yard line. Shaw took the shotgun snap with the season, and perhaps Steve Spurrier’s final chance at winning an SEC Championship with the Gamecocks on the line, and hit Bruce Ellington for the huge touchdown. That play kept the game going and the following South Carolina field goal kept the pressure on Missouri, and that pressure ended up being the difference in the game.
It was great win for South Carolina on the road, and it was a career defining moment for Connor Shaw.
Related: 9 biggest takeaways from Saturday
But as good as Connor Shaw was, South Carolina shouldn’t have won this game. Andrew Baggett’s kick that clanked off the upright shouldn’t have happened because there shouldn’t have been an overtime. Sure, Missouri was fortunate to find themselves up 17-0, but that’s where they were, up 17-0 in the fourth quarter at home and they lost. Maty Mauk was 4-12 in the second half. L’Damian Washington had a 96-yard touchdown catch before halftime. It was an incredible play. It would be his only catch of the game. Dorial Green-Beckham had one catch for six yards. Two catches for those two receivers is criminal. It was as if Gary Pinkel got to 17 points and said, “Alright, guys, that’s enough scoring for one night. We’re good.” I mean, Missouri got the ball back with :43 left in the fourth with two time outs and let the clock run out, happy to get into overtime. What? You don’t try anything, Gary? Don’t want to lob something up to your freak show wide receivers? Missouri squandered an amazing opportunity. It was a bad loss.
What does this mean for Missouri? The Tigers had the SEC locked up and now find themselves needing wins at Mississippi and at home against Texas A&M if they want the chance to likely play #1 Alabama in Atlanta. That’s a tall order. Are they good enough to do it? It’s hard to say. Going into the South Carolina game I believed Missouri was still very unproven and their undefeated record had a lot to do with playing very bad teams and very injured teams. After seeing the difference Connor Shaw’s presence made in a quarter and change, I still believe that’s the case.
Related: South Carolina-Missouri highlights
Alabama Pounds Tennessee
“For their head coach to come out and say they can play against anybody, I don’t think we’re just anybody… We won two national championships in a row and we’re undefeated right now. So we’re not just anybody.” – A.J. McCarron
Translation 1: “Settle down, Butch Jones. You still have a looooooooooong way to go.”
Translation 2: “We are trying to avoid pulling a South Carolina and are pretending to be offended by everyday coach speak.”
Alabama looked like, well, the best team in the country on Saturday. They totally dominated a Tennessee team that was coming off their biggest win in years. T.J. Yeldon had three touchdowns, McCarron threw for 275 and two touchdowns. Kevin Norwood and Amari Cooper looked like pros. Alabama’s offense looked scary balanced.
How is Alabama’s defense? Well they’ve held their last six opponents to 26 total points. Yeah. It should be noted that five of those six opponents are pathetically awful football teams, but it’s still pretty impressive. Vinnie Sunseri was gone this week and the rest of the weeks after tearing his ACL in their 52-0 win over Arkansas. No worries. His replacement, Landon Collins returned an interception 89 yards for a touchdown.
They now have a bye week to recuperate from playing all these cupcakes before playing the biggest game of their regular season against LSU. In all seriousness, this game is still huge. Despite LSU’s bad loss to Ole Miss last week, they are very dangerous and are likely Alabama’s toughest matchup this season.
Texas A&M Bounces Back Against Vandy
Johnny Football won’t let an injury slow him down. Three hundred and five yards and four touchdowns is basically what we’ve come to expect from Manziel. Two touchdowns are also what we’ve come to expect from future millionaire Mike Evans. Texas A&M jumped all over the Austyn Carta-Samuels-less Commodores 21-0 and never looked back.
A&M might not be playing for the SEC West but Manziel is still playing for his second Heisman. He might be a little caught up in Jameis Winston’s wake right now, but Johnny Football still has big games against LSU and Missouri. I’m telling you, it could still happen.
I enjoyed watching the SEC’s two best wide receivers square off. Neither had their best games of the season, but Jordan Matthews and Mike Evans have delivered every week and have been a lot of fun to watch.
Plays that Mattered
Given his medical ailments, Connor Shaw probably should be living in a bubble, not converting 4th and goal from the 15 yard line with the season on the line (:54 second mark).
Amari Cooper gets half of a block, and that’s all he needs to run past the entire Tennessee defense.
What they Meant to Say
“I didn’t think he (Connor Shaw) was going to be able to go. His leg literally fell off his body last week. It wasn’t even during the game, just walking to class and his leg fell off. He’s… flimsy.” – Steve Spurrier, Head Coach, University of South Carolina
“You don’t know what it’s like to have to get these kids motivated. Pretty much everyone on this team has multiple rings, and we keep playing bad teams. I have to tell McCarron that Butch Jones is disrespecting our team just to keep him from cutting himself just so he can feel.” – Nick Saban, Head Coach, University of Alabama
“Did you buy it? The whole injury thing? We totally made it up. Yeah, Johnny and I flew up to New York this offseason and popped some bottles in the club with Paul Pierce and he broke down the perfect way to play up the injury and how coming back and balling really helps develop your brand. We didn’t expect to lose to Auburn, though. That really backfired.” - Uncle Nate, Man Servant to Johnny Manziel
“I guess we can’t catch every break this season.” – Gary Pinkel, Head Coach, University of Missouri