10 things I'm absolutely overreacting to after Week 7
Oh, my. Compared to some people on Georgia message boards and Twitter Saturday afternoon, I look like the charter member of the Kirby Smart Fan Club.
Third-and-15 and Smart had to call a timeout to come up with a plan to stop Vanderbilt’s invisible passing offense? Later, 4th-and-1 on the game’s most important play and Nick Chubb has his hand in the dirt? Is there a “Best Decoy” watch list?
Wow. His performance thus far as a rookie coach is just one of the 10 things I’m overreacting to after a wild Week 7 in and around the SEC.
1. Honeymoon over: I’ve questioned many of Smart’s missteps this season, on the field and off. But calling timeout on 3rd-and-15 against an offense that can’t throw?
That wasn’t even his strangest decision. Needing 1 yard to keep its final drive alive, Georgia pitched to 175-pound back Isaiah McKenzie, who was tackled for no gain. Game over.
One yard, and Nick Chubb didn’t get the ball?
How is that even possible?
I didn’t like the fact Georgia fired Mark Richt simply because it decided 9 wins weren’t good enough. So it’s fair to read my criticisms of Smart through that prism. But each week he does something that further suggests he’s in over his head.
Will he improve? It’s possible. But it’s far from a lock. He’s a first-time head coach in the SEC. How many of those hires work out? There’s Richt and Dan Mullen … and a lot of really nice homes for sale.
Right now, Smart is coaching every bit like a rookie, too.
2. Jalen Hurts for Heisman: I wrote earlier in the year that Hurts would win the Heisman next year. I’m officially backing up that timeline. Alabama isn’t losing and he’s proving to be more unstoppable each week. I’m running out of adjectives to describe what the young man is doing. And he’s just a true freshman.
We’re entering Wilt Chamberlain 1961-62 territory, where we talk about everything else Alabama did to win and finish stories with: Hurts chipped in three rushing touchdowns.
3. Stop it, already: Nine consecutive games with a non-offensive touchdown? Another game this season with a defensive score and a special teams score?
Alabama has played four ranked teams this season: It’s scored at least 48 on all four of them. Its defense has scored on all four of them.
The biggest question moving forward is: Who’s going to shut out Alabama’s defense?
4. Not to keep banging on Smart, but this was the funniest tweet I saw Saturday:
So far UGA season tix buyers have seen:
• horrendous game vs. FCS scrub
• hearts ripped out by Vols
• Vandy's 1st SEC road win in years
— ol' spooky bastard (@CaptainAnnoying) October 15, 2016
At least Jacob Eason had a good day. Eason threw for a career-high 346 yards. Who recruited him? Oh, right: Richt.
5. Teez Tabor and Quincy Wilson are some bad boys: Tabor has taken a lot of heat this season for his outspoken views. Last week, Tabor wasn’t having any of this “Drew Lock is the SEC’s leading passer” talk. He reminded reporters that the Gators’ secondary was No. 1, too.
Saturday, on back-to-back possessions, Tabor and Wilson picked off Lock and took it back for six.
Tabor saved his celebration for Twitter. So smart. Can’t get flagged for that.
Something like that lol https://t.co/KCN0B0LL5b
— Teez Tabor (@_31Flavorz) October 16, 2016
6. Congratulations, Derek Mason: I’m a Mason fan. Vandy is in an impossible situation. It’s the Alabama of Academics, so it’s never made sense to me that Mason could be on a hot seat in Year 3 simply because his football team hasn’t won often enough.
Vandy has never won 10 games in any season. It’s been to just seven bowl games — ever.
An occasional bowl game is Vandy’s football ceiling, and that’s OK.
Of course the Commodores aspire to go higher, but the reality is every other SEC program has an easier path and fewer obstacles to football prosperity. As such, it’s refreshing when the Commodores can land the occasional haymaker. No wonder Mason called their 17-16 victory at Georgia his greatest win.
7. Chad Kelly can turn it over 10 times, and I don’t care: Is there anybody in America more fun to watch play than the Ole Miss gunslinger?
He’s the most exciting roller-coaster ride in college football. Good or bad, but never boring.
You knew as soon as he took off trying to convert a 4th-and-16 against Arkansas that something crazy was about to happen.
He wasn’t going to slide. He was going to try to run over whatever or however many defenders got in his way. It almost worked out, somehow. Unfortunately for the Rebels, 2016 has become a season of “almosts.”
But you’d much rather your QB go out like Kelly did as opposed to how Ohio State ended Wisconsin’s upset bid with this sack on the final play of overtime.
— College GameDay (@CollegeGameDay) October 16, 2016
8. Coach O: Ed Orgeron gets the lovable uncle treatment, but the guy can coach. In a matter of weeks, he’s transformed LSU into the team we thought they’d be when we submitted ballots in July. And he’s done it without Leonard Fournette.
You can question the opponents — that’s fine, perhaps fair — but you can’t question the sense of excitement that’s he’s rebuilt almost overnight in Baton Rouge.
It’s gone from groans of “here we go again” to roars of “Here we go! Again!”
LSU is amped up, and its coach fueling the fire.
O on playing Ole Miss: "I don't have many memories of that place that I want to remember." #LSU
— Ross Dellenger (@RossDellenger) October 16, 2016
Alabama looks absolutely unbeatable, but if Orgeron can stun the Tide at Death Valley, Joe Alleva can call off the coaching search. LSU has found its guy, even if they don’t realize it yet.
9. Outside the SEC? Still not impressed: Wisconsin, which barely beat “cable LSU” in a virtual home game, should have beaten Ohio State at home. Clemson needed good fortune to beat N.C. State in Death Valley.
Kirk Herbstreit said it best: If he could create a gap between Alabama and No. 2, he would. Alabama is that much better than everybody else in the country, but there are probably 10 or more teams who could compete for spots 2 through 4 in the playoff.
10. Alabama-Texas A&M, who you got? They’re No. 1 and No. 2 in this week’s SEC Power Rankings, but like Herbstreit said about the nation, the gap is even larger in the SEC.
Nobody does revenge quite like Nick Saban. (Except, perhaps, Lane Kiffin. I keep waiting for Kiffin to raise his hands, celebrating touchdown style, as soon as Hurts breaks the huddle. You know it’s coming.)
How many times do you think Saban has heard about Trevor Knight’s performance in the January 2014 Sugar Bowl?
No full-time QB has beaten Saban twice. (LSU’s Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee shared snaps in posting consecutive wins in 2010 and 2011.)
There’s never a good time to play Alabama, but the Tide just seem to be getting better.
Alabama by double digits.
Parting thought: With all the Nov. 19 drama with LSU and Florida and paying off cupcakes, just wondering: Is it too late for Chattanooga to call Alabama and request a paycheck and just call it a day?
Chris Wright is Executive Editor at SaturdayDownSouth.com. Email him at email@example.com.