10 things I'm absolutely overreacting to after Week 6
In Tua I trust.
Would it be an overreaction to say Tagovailoa already is the greatest quarterback in SEC history? Or do you need a few more games, touchdowns and national titles before you’re convinced?
While you ponder that inevitable conclusion, I’ll continue with 10 things I’m absolutely overreacting to after a wild Week 6 in and around the SEC.
10. I’m officially concerned about Bama’s run game
Concerned in the sense that it is absolutely getting in Alabama’s way of history … and my enjoyment of said pursuit.
We all get it. At some point, I suppose, you have to convert that tough 3rd-and-3, pound out 3 first downs in a 4-minute offense, blah, blah, blah.
Unless, of course, your quarterback is 6-for-7 for 202 yards and 2 TDs and his arm set up a short TD on his third possession to make it 21-0 — in the first quarter.
On Bama’s next possession, they ran it four consecutive times — including on 4th-and-1 near midfield. Damien Harris was stopped for a loss — resulting in a loss of downs.
It was the first time Arkansas stopped Alabama. It was the only time Arkansas even looked like it had a chance to stop Alabama.
The next possession? Tagovailoa hit a streaking Jerry Jeudy for 42-yard touchdown, capping your standard 5-play, 99-yard scoring drive. That throw pushed Tagovailoa’s numbers to 7-for-8 for 244 yards and 3 TD passes.
Tagovailoa finished the first half with another 1-play TD drive — a perfectly placed slant to Jeudy, who raced 60 yards for a TD.
Tagovailoa was 10-for-11 for 334 yards and 4 TD throws. That was with time left in the first half. He would have topped 400 yards. He would have at least tied Gary Hollingsworth’s program record for TD passes in a game (5) and likely broken it, but Nick Saban again took the ball out of his hands. So he finished with 4 — for the third in six games.
It’s not a joke: Every time Alabama runs the football, it’s doing the defense a favor.
9. I’m even more concerned about Alabama’s back seven
Ty Storey, who wasn’t even Arkansas’ first choice to start this season, toyed with Alabama’s back seven Saturday.
He hit long balls, intermediate balls, swing passes. He hit receivers, tight ends and running backs.
If Bama’s front four didn’t get to him, the Tide’s back seven didn’t stop him. Storey threw 2 of Arkansas’ 3 TD passes.
It didn’t matter Saturday. It might in December.
8. The craziest thing about Tua …
(Other than the fact he had 3 more TD drives of 3 plays or fewer — giving him 11 such TD drives this season. Or that he has 18 TD passes this season … and just 25 incompletions.)
Alabama’s offense looks, dare we say, fairly normal with Jalen Hurts throwing to the same set of receivers or handing off to the same group of running backs.
This isn’t an “Alabama just overwhelming everybody” thing as much as it is a “Tagovailoa really is this great” thing.
He makes Alabama utterly, unfairly unstoppable — right up until the moment Nick Saban pulls the plug on the party.
7. Mark Richt just saved Miami’s season
That’s not an overreaction. That’s fact.
No program in America, maybe in history, tunes out faster than a disinterested Hurricanes team after the big goals have vanished. That’s as much a U thing as unsportsmanlike penalties and lavish boat parties.
After losing the opener to LSU, had they lost to struggling rival FSU, at home, Saturday night, these Canes might have been on their way to yet another you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me 5-loss season.
After FSU scored to make it 27-7 early in the third quarter, I was midway through a 200-word mini rant on Mark Richt and the Canes, about how neither, apparently, was ever going to change.
And then the Canes pulled off a rally for the ages, scoring 21 unanswered for a 28-27 stunner.
All of the conditional qualifiers apply — chiefly, FSU stinks — but that’s what made this game a can’t-lose. Not only a rival, but a rival that’s down.
Miami’s Playoff hopes remain 4th-and-forever. There’s not enough left, outside of an ACC championship, to impress the selection committee.
But the Canes still have a chance at their first 11-win season since 2003 and first ACC title — ever.
6. How angry is Tom Herman that Maryland is going to keep Texas out of Playoff?
Texas played a great game Saturday, knocking off rival Oklahoma in the highest scoring Red River Showdown ever. It was a great win.
But Texas isn’t a great team.
Playoff teams can overcome a loss, certainly an opening loss, but Texas followed its second consecutive loss to the Terps with a squeaker against Tulsa. Optics matter, and Maryland just lost for the second time since beating Texas. Further, three of Texas’ five victories have been by one score, most dramatically its 48-45 thriller Saturday.
Maybe Saturday represented a corner turned in the Tom Herman era. But in terms of this year’s Playoff push? It didn’t move the needle much.
If the Longhorns take down West Virginia in Week 10, then we’ll talk.
Until then, Saturday was what it was: a great game to watch, no different from a lot of other rivalry games.
Last week, Saban blasted Alabama students, basically for being bored by 50-point games. I thought SEC energy Saturday was outstanding.
But everywhere you looked, SEC stadiums exuded atmosphere. The Swamp was rocking. Kyle Field was its typical towel-waving self. Heck, even Arkansas fans were still there cheering in the second half. The mascots, obviously, brought it, too.
4. The 4 Playoff teams are …
No. 1 Alabama. No. 2 Clemson. No. 3 Ohio State. No. 4 Georgia. No. 5 Notre Dame. No. 6 West Virginia. No. 7 UCF. No. 8 Oklahoma.
We’re halfway through the regular season. Time to reward the teams that haven’t lost and punish teams that have.
3. How did Michael Scarnecchia outplay Drew Lock?
Save the wet-ball weather excuses and the injured receiver excuses. South Carolina’s barely-used senior backup started and outplayed a potential first-round draft pick.
At this point in Lock’s career, coming off a rough performance against Georgia and with a bye to work out the kinks, his 17-for-36, 0-TD, 2 INT performance might have been his worst yet. Lock hasn’t thrown a TD pass in his past two games.
Mizzou only has one chance to win, and if Lock plays like this, they have no chance.
This pass? No … this decision?
What in the world?
Drew Lock may have just thrown the worst interception of the year…pic.twitter.com/EKjw17gcGO
— Saturday Down South (@SDS) October 6, 2018
Next week’s trip to Tuscaloosa is a chance for somebody to get healthy. Will it be Mizzou’s struggling QB or Alabama’s struggling back seven?
2. Oh, neaux, LSU! And Kentucky, too?
Saturday belonged to the naysayers. LSU and Kentucky gave all of them the opportunity to say, “I told you so.”
I thought Florida’s Todd Grantham outschemed LSU’s Steve Ensminger, and that was the difference at The Swamp.
LSU was just 4-for-17 on third down, which speaks to scheme. Grantham brought heat all afternoon, from different layers and directions. It confused LSU’s offensive line and the unfortunate running backs asked to pick up the blitz. The Gators hurried Joe Burrow on more than half of his throws. The picked him off twice — accounting for his only two interceptions this season.
Coaching is a common theme with this year’s Gators. A lot of the players are the same. The results, attitude and style of play? That’s changing, for the better — and it’s a reflection of the new and improved staff.
This guy agrees …
Want an example of growth in the @GatorsFB program look no further than that possesion to answer LSU's 4 play 80 yard TD drive to take the lead. No way they do that last year. Great playing calling and solid execution. Players stepping up to make plays in the clutch. #LSUvsUF
— Chris Doering (@ChrisDoering) October 6, 2018
Kentucky will forever lament the fact Benny Snell didn’t touch the ball on the pivotal third-down call in overtime that resulted in a sack, and set up a longer missed field goal attempt. It wasn’t quite on a James Franklin level of ineptitude, but Kentucky was in this position — undefeated, ranked No. 13 — because of Snell, not Terry Wilson.
Snell should have gotten the ball.
Play-calling. It matters.
Speaking of which …
1. OK, Auburn, I’m done
The dance ended. Go bat your lovely blue eyes at somebody else.
How many years is Gus Malzahn’s new contract?