10 things I'm absolutely overreacting to after opening week in the SEC
I never bought into the top-10 potential for the 2020 LSU Tigers, but I certainly never expected the defensive dud they laid Saturday, either.
Did KJ Costello just clinch the Heisman? Am I alone in thinking the SEC West just got a whole lot more interesting? Or that Nick Saban already is dreading his Halloween birthday showdown with the Pirate?
Those are just some of the 10 things I’m absolutely overreacting to after a wild opening week in and around the SEC.
10. To air is Mike Leach
I was skeptical. Not necessarily that Mike Leach would continue to throw it every chance he got, but how effective his Air Raid attack would be in the SEC. (Yes, I know Tim Couch set records with Leach at Kentucky, but that was in the 1900s.)
As debuts go, it couldn’t have gone any better. How do you top historic?
KJ Costello made a lot of throws, but did he make any risky throws?
That’s the beauty of Leach’s Air Raid. Somebody is always open. The route trees are so creative and play off each other beautifully. No wonder Kylin Hill came back. What running back wouldn’t rather be tackled by safeties than nose tackles.
Costello threw for 623 yards, obviously an SEC single-game record. That looks like a typo. You could reverse those numbers and that still would be an astounding day against “DBU.”
The SEC, after never having a quarterback come remotely close to 5,000 yards, is about to see it happen in back-to-back years.
Unreal. And I can’t wait to watch it unfold.
9. Long live 2019 LSU
I tried all offseason to prepare LSU fans for the reality that plug-n-play operations aren’t as seamless and successful as Nick Saban makes them look. The top-10 talk seemed, um, optimistic. Before players on other West teams started opting out, I pegged the Tigers for 4th in the West. Seven media members actually predicted the Tigers would defend their SEC crown.
Reality struck Saturday.
LSU looked average or worse on both sides of the ball for most of the game.
Understandably so, too.
Myles Brennan had a few moments and eventually will look even more comfortable, but he didn’t show any of Joe Burrow’s magic. Derek Stingley won’t miss every game, though I’m not sure how much of a difference he would have made Saturday; Leach’s QBs throw ’em where they ain’t. The running game was virtually non-existent with no explosive plays.
About the only good thing that happened to LSU on Saturday was the fact so few Tigers fans had to sit through it.
8. Kyle Trask had himself a day
I picked Florida to beat Georgia and win the SEC East for 2 reasons:
- Kyle Trask is a better QB than whoever lines up for the Dawgs when they meet in Jacksonville.
- Dan Mullen is a better in-game coach than Kirby Smart.
Florida’s defense didn’t look good Saturday against Ole Miss. Our Gators columnist, Neil Blackmon, wrote about the secondary concerns, and Saturday, they looked like primary concerns.
Actually, the Gators’ performance reminded me a lot of LSU most of last year: The offense is going to have to keep scoring until the other side figures it out.
The Gators’ offense looks entirely capable of holding up their end of that deal.
Trask was poised, efficient, smart, accurate, all the traits he demonstrated last year.
Plus this: Saturday he was dangerous, to the tune of 6 TD passes, tying a program record against an SEC team.
He was actively hunting the end zone, the big play. That’s an encouraging sign if you’re a frustrated Gators fan.
7. Speaking of frustrated … Dear Greg, change the transfer policy. Now
I’ve written columns about how unfair and discriminatory college football’s transfer policy is. I’ve heard every argument supporting it and I’m 20 years past even wanting to listen to another tired, illogical explanation as to why it still exists.
But even when the NCAA grants a waiver — hark! — the SEC still can say no. What in the literal fig newton are we doing here?
“Ridiculous” is too nice of a word to describe such a despicable policy, but it’s Sunday, so I’ll mind my manners. But I’m about thisclose to calling Finebaum on Monday and venting like my team just lost a game on a bad call. Because it did. This is a terrible call.
Greg Sankey is the best leader in college football. I believe that. I tweeted that earlier this summer. I’ve assigned stories in support of that. He widened the gap, considerably, this offseason. But he’s allowing the SEC to remain on the wrong side on this transfer issue.
Legally, morally, conceptually, it’s really as simple as this:
Kirby Smart was the DC at Alabama. He left to become Georgia’s head coach.
Will Muschamp was the DC at Auburn. He left to become South Carolina’s head coach.
Dan Mullen was the head freakin’ coach at Mississippi State. He left the program he built to become the head coach at Florida. (Of course, he was the OC at Florida when Mississippi State hired him to be its head coach.)
Jeremy Pruitt was the DC at Alabama. He left to become Tennessee’s head coach.
Sam Pittman was the OL coach and recruiter extraordinaire at Georgia. He left to become Arkansas’ head coach.
Five of the 14 SEC head coaches left one SEC program to join another without penalty or pause.
None of those guys was fired. Every single one of them transferred inside the conference for one reason: It benefitted them. That’s perfectly fine, too, and exactly the point: Everybody deserves the right to chase their dreams, to change their mind, to transfer into a better situation.
Unless, of course, you’re Joey Gatewood. Or Cade Mays. Or many, many other football players whom this policy punishes.
Allowing one set of people to do something while restricting others is the classic definition of discrimination. And, yet, the SEC still stands by this archaic, asinine policy that players must sit out a year if they transfer from one SEC program to another SEC program?
Come on, SEC. You’re better than this.
Force their hand, Greg. Do what you do best: Lead the fight to make things right.
6. Dear NCAA, stay the heck away from Jackson State
What happens in Jackson, stays in Jackson. Just sit back and enjoy the show.
And it absolutely will be a show. With Prime Time and Warren Sapp running things, how could it not? There’s no way this has a long shelf-life, but who cares? All the swag. All the time.
Hide the kids. Bring earplugs to practice. You’re gonna hear and see some stuff that’ll make grandma faint.
Prime, Pirate and Lane Train all in the same state? May I suggest, next spring, we get all 3 programs together for a good ol’ Friday night jamboree?
Stay far, far away NCAA and just let Deion’s dogs ride.
— Deion Sanders (@DeionSanders) September 22, 2020
5. Bottom 5 of Power 5
The worst of the weak:
1. Oklahoma’s defense. It’s a broken record. It’s a broken system. And it just cost the Sooners a spot in the Playoff.
2. Mark Stoops’ decision to fake the punt. Fair is fair. Had Kirby Smart done that, the internet would have exploded and I certainly would have mentioned it. Auburn stopped Kentucky’s fake and scored 2 plays later to turn a close game into an insurmountable advantage. Kentucky fans are angry about the refs’ call that negated a TD. They should be. But Stoops’ call was even more costly.
3. Texas A&M. Spending $75 million to beat Vanderbilt by 5? I suppose that’s better than spending $75 million and losing to Vandy.
4. FSU: The Noles are 0-2 for the 2nd time in 4 years. That’s bad enough. But the 42-point loss to hated rival Miami was the most lopsided in the series since the Canes whipped Bobby Bowden’s first FSU team 47-0 in 1976.
5. Georgia’s offense. The scoreboard didn’t tell the story. If only Kirby Smart had a 5-star quarterback …
4. The 4 Playoff teams are …
1. Alabama. 2. Clemson. 3. Ohio State. 4. Florida.
Texas, whip Oklahoma and run the table in a very, very average Big 12, then we’ll talk.
UCF, I’m not going to wait long on Texas to prove it belongs.
Somebody give me a double shot of chaos, please. Looking at you, Miami. Or Mississippi State.
3. Speaking of Ohio State and the B1G’s Playoff chances …
The B1G champion is going to the Playoff. Without question. Whether they play 6 games or 8 games, whether they lose 1 game or no games, the B1G champion is a Playoff lock.
The B1G’s belated return helped legitimize the most unconventional season of my lifetime. For that reason alone, the committee will reward its champ.
I understand the counter-arguments.
I lead the league in B1G jokes. Long before it became a popular retort, I was noting how the B1G hadn’t scored a point in the Playoff since Ohio State finished off Oregon. (Ohio State changed that last year, of course, but the B1G still hasn’t won a Playoff game since the 2014 national championship.)
So while it was fun to note that the Playoff didn’t need the B1G in 2017, it’s foolish to actually believe the Playoff chase is better if no B1G teams are involved.
You want Justin Fields in the race. You need Justin Fields in the race.
I come back to this: The selection committee is composed of humans, not computers. Just like I was convinced — and wrote numerous times — that Ohio State would not make the 2018 Playoff for the sole reason it would have been a terrible look to reward a team that started the season with a mishandled domestic abuse scandal, I feel equally adamant that the committee will reward the B1G this time for deciding to play.
2. What about the Pac-12? They’re playing, too
You’re kidding, right?
1. Well, that didn’t take long
Ripping referees is what we do on Saturdays. I’m fairly certain it’s the reason Twitter exists.
Florida safety Shawn Davis Jr. decided “we” shouldn’t have all the fun.
Davis was ejected on the Gators’ first defensive stand when he delivered a high hit after an Ole Miss incompletion. It certainly appeared Davis led with the shoulder into a ducking receiver. It looked like a solid football play.
The stripes ruled it was targeting. About 5 seconds after getting to the dressing room, Davis let the world know what he thought about the call.
How awesome is that? An ejected player calling out a referee. That’s hilarious. The best part is the SEC can’t even fine him.
Man, I missed college football.