Sometimes it’s interesting to get a totally new perspective on consuming football.

Saturday was new in a variety of ways. A Saturday morning flight to Charlotte meant that I was unable to watch College GameDay, which is a rarity in itself, but more important than that was my new surroundings.

My SDS Podcast co-host, Chris Marler, and I took a trip to SEC Network and watched 11 hours of football with the likes of Peter Burns (he had the early shift), Dari Nowkhah, Chris Doering and Gene Chizik, as well as other production crew members of the SEC Network team.

Needless to say, it was an eye-opening experience. It’s not every day that I’m sitting in the same room as someone with a national title, or with someone who caught 17 touchdowns in a season. Listening to them dissect a game was extremely interesting. It was also a learning experience.

Hopefully that’ll be reflected in these things I learned about SEC teams in Week 5 (excluding teams on bye):

Alabama: Bad things happen when you forget about DeVonta Smith

What makes Alabama so dangerous is not simply Tua Tagovailoa or Jerry Jeudy. It’s the depth at receiver that allows the Crimson Tide to just humiliate teams.

And to be fair, I don’t think Ole Miss forgot about Smith, who is considered the fourth target in the offense behind Jeudy, Henry Ruggs and Jaylen Waddle. But Ole Miss always seemed to be a step behind reacting to an open Smith, and as we found out, that was deadly. Smith set an Alabama record with 274 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns (tied for an SEC record) and proved that containing the Crimson Tide wideouts is essentially an impossible game of Whac-A-Mole.

In his first 2 SEC games of the year, the junior set career highs in receiving yards and touchdowns. You know, just in case defensive coordinators didn’t have enough to worry about with the Alabama offense.

Arkansas: Not all hope is lost

My lock of the week was Arkansas covering +23.5 against the Aggies in Dallas. Besides the fact that the matchup has always been surprisingly close since it moved to Dallas, I just thought this was a gut check game for the Hogs after the San Jose State debacle. I thought there was no way they’d be as bad up front as they were last week, and sure enough, that was the case. Even when Ben Hicks had to replace Nick Starkel, the Razorbacks were a failed last-minute drive short of winning that game. But for all the heat Arkansas took in the last week, that was a moral victory if I’ve ever seen one. Now let’s see if that leads to some actual victories.

Auburn: Yeah, that offense is figuring things out

Remember when people were saying that Auburn wasn’t top 5 worthy because it couldn’t score? Yeah, about that. The Tigers dropped the hammer on Mississippi State from the jump. How’s nearly 600 yards of offense for ya? My goodness. The timing between Bo Nix and his receivers looked better than ever, and Auburn was ready to roll for its first SEC home game of 2019. And Anthony Schwartz, for me, has turned into Kadarius Toney. What a weapon he’s become. That was the perfect performance from the Tigers’ offense heading into a tough showdown in The Swamp.

Florida: Dan Mullen still isn’t pleased with the offensive line

Good. He shouldn’t be. In a weird way, Mullen probably didn’t want to see his offensive line pave the way for 400 yards against Towson and think it had turned the corner when Auburn is on deck. Your feature back should run for more than 2.7 yards per carry against Towson. Shoot, your team should hit 200 yards in the ground in its sleep against Towson.

The Gators rank No. 88 in the country in that department, so it wasn’t surprising to hear Mullen say that the offensive line needs to mentally prepare better. A group that had massive turnover entering the year is clearly still figuring things out. It’ll need to mature in a hurry in order to create some holes against that dominant Auburn defensive line.

Kentucky: No Terry Wilson, no problem? Not exactly

The Mississippi State and Florida games were one thing. Go figure that against South Carolina, we finally saw how badly Kentucky needed Wilson instead of Sawyer Smith. It was ugly. Against a fired up Gamecocks defense, Smith couldn’t fit the ball into tight windows, he couldn’t make plays on the move and he didn’t even give Kentucky a chance. Lynn Bowden might have been the better option.

This was a Kentucky team that I thought could win a bunch of games this year, but the margin for error was slim. Losing Wilson at that stage of his development was costly because now, Kentucky is totally one-dimensional. Even for an offensive line that has played extremely well so far, that’s a tough ask.

Mississippi State: The margin for error of the defense is even slimmer than I realized

Woof. Bob Shoop, that wasn’t it. It’s a humbling experience to let a true freshman quarterback carve up your defense. It’s equally humbling to watch an offense play at a different speed than your defense. Auburn probably could have put up 70 had it kept its foot on the gas (Gene Chizik set the over/under at 63 at the start of the 2nd half). Not having Willie Gay Jr. was costly, and Erroll Thompson’s targeting ejection didn’t help, either. But still. I expected better from Shoop’s defense, which was coming off a solid effort against Kentucky.

It’s a good thing that this group has a bye week before traveling to Tennessee because it has plenty to figure out.

Ole Miss: John Rhys Plumlee can scoot, and the ground game is effective

I probably didn’t give Plumlee enough credit for what he did to nearly pull off a comeback late against a lockdown Cal defense. So I’ll make up for it by giving him props for some of the plays he made with his legs against Alabama. Go figure that in a game in which Ole Miss trailed significantly, Plumlee rushed for over 100 yards. That was the most rushing yards (279) Alabama let up in a regular season game since the Kick-6 in 2013. That’s a credit to the job the Rebels did up front creating holes against that banged up Alabama front 7.

The Rich Rodriguez effect is starting to take shape … in more ways than one.

South Carolina: Now that’s the defense Gamecock fans were hoping for

Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah.

That was the sound of Gamecocks fans as they watched the defense they’d been waiting all year to see. It wasn’t just Javon Kinlaw and everyone else. D.J. Wonnum and T.J. Brunson were everywhere, and that secondary put the clamps on Kentucky’s passing game. That was the type of effort it was going to take to end the streak against the Wildcats. Even in a game in which Ryan Hilinski didn’t play well (the tailbacks certainly did), South Carolina was in control throughout. It’s amazing how that happens when guys step up and make plays on the defensive side.

Texas A&M: Forget the “we’re better than our record indicates” Year 2 with Jimbo

That narrative is dead. At least it should be. What have we seen from the Aggies since that opener that should inspire any sort of hope? The fact that Clemson didn’t roll them by 5 touchdowns? Is that it? By the way, Clemson going wire-to-wire with UNC certainly didn’t strengthen that argument. Even in a win, the Aggies looked plenty flawed. They simply cannot run the ball. The best running play is Kellen Mond scrambling, and even that probably makes Jimbo Fisher hold his breath.

Expectations for the Aggies were lowered a bit because of that daunting schedule. But I’m not by any means convinced this team will actually improve in Year 2 under Jimbo. The offense certainly hasn’t, and that’s not just because Jashaun Corbin is out. This team needs to get it figured out during the bye week because one-dimensional teams don’t last very long against Alabama.

Vanderbilt: Not everyone in the Big 3 is happy

Trouble in paradise? I shouldn’t call 1-3 Vanderbilt “paradise,” but it appears there are some issues in the Big 3, specifically Jared Pinkney. The preseason All-American wasn’t too pleased that he only had 2 targets and 1 catch Saturday. His body language on the sidelines reportedly was from frustration. Derek Mason’s quote about Pinkney’s involvement in the offense was telling:

“Guys only get touches if we can cycle through downs, if we can put ourselves in position to move the ball down the field, and we did (during 2 early touchdown drives),” Mason said. “This isn’t the Jared Pinkney show. It’s a football game. He’s given up enough of himself in this game to warrant touches.

“We’ve just got to do a better job all the way around of making sure that those things come his way. There are better opportunities, more opportunities for him, but football is an 11-man game.”

Here’s the thing: Pinkney is averaging 2.5 catches for 30 yards per game. A down year would hurt his draft stock, and in the short term, it’s hurting Vandy’s offense. The Commodores have just 4 passing TDs all year and they rank No. 107 in FBS in passing efficiency. Pinkney’s frustration boiling over could be the product of all of those things, but as Mason admitted, clearly Vandy needs to get him more involved to get the offense going.