5 juiciest storylines for Week 4 in the SEC
Alabama, you’re next.
Famous last words? Or the opening salvo to the most unlikely upset in the SEC this century?
That’s just one of the five hottest storylines in and around the SEC in Week 4.
5. Fightin’ words: Social media had a field day with this — the words and the voice — but Mike Tyson didn’t exactly sound like James Earl Jones or Sam Elliott, either.
— Justin Beasley (@JBeasleyWSMV) September 17, 2017
It’s fascinating what NFL early-entrees are doing to college football. It’s not as dramatic or drastic as what one-and-dones have done to college basketball, but the field is shifting.
College football’s best players aren’t fifth-year seniors or even seniors any more. They’re typically juniors, occasionally redshirt sophomores. They arrive on campus and set the clock for 3 years.
That’s not the case at Vanderbilt. (Or a lot of Group of Fives.) And it’s given teams that never had hope plenty of it.
Derek Mason made a great point this week: His team is the older, more experienced, more veteran group of the two. Nineteen-year-old 5-stars are great, but football is a grown-man game, and the closer you are to being a grown man, the more it helps.
Vandy believes it belongs. That’s half the battle when facing a monster like Alabama.
Unless Alabama flips a switch that it’s been saving, Vanderbilt has a real chance to keep this close, if not more.
Different league, different circumstances, but not long ago, Wake Forest beat Florida State three consecutive times and four times in six years. FSU was ranked three of those times.
Crazy things happen on Saturdays.
4. The Eason/Fromm dynamic: Jacob Eason is back at practice. Kirby Smart dodged the obvious question by asking reporters what “back” really means.
Georgia is 3-0. Fromm hasn’t done anything really dramatic to win those games, but he hasn’t made any costly mistakes to lose them, either. He threw a nice ball to set up the winning field goal at Notre Dame. He’s been solid, reliable. And that’s been enough.
Against Mississippi State, however, the Dawgs might need more.
How close is Eason to returning? With such limited access to practice, it’s impossible to know. What I do know is I can’t wait to see how this plays out. This isn’t just a question for Week 4. It’s a question every week for at least another year.
3. Jarrett Guarantano: There are all kinds of crazy whispers in Knoxville that the Guarantano camp isn’t happy.
Guarantano has tweeted all the right things about team, team, team, but the TV cameras caught him looking rather disgusted that he wasn’t called into action in the season opener against Georgia Tech. Then he was inserted and pulled off the field last week against Florida.
His sample size is insanely small to make drastic declarations, but he hasn’t looked sharp in limited opportunities: 4 of 12, a few being wild misfires. But Quinten Dormady hasn’t reminded anybody of Peyton Manning, either.
Today against UMass seems like a perfect time to get Guarantano some meaningful reps. Four-star QBs don’t stay patient forever.
It’s definitely a situation worth monitoring.
2. Let it rip, Jim: At the risk of repeating myself, Florida beat Tennessee last week in spite of its head coach, not because of him.
The final-drive clock management was so bad many think Jim McElwain was intentionally playing for overtime. Or, perhaps trying to set up Eddy Pineiro for a 60-yard game winner. Tennessee said as much; DC Bob Shoop essentially said the Gators conceded any attempt to win the game in regulation and the Vols took away their best options to try to get into field goal range. Crazy that Feleipe Franks overcame both factors to launch a legacy-starting throw.
The metrics say Florida’s offense still stinks. But the computers never tried to tackle Kadarius Toney or stay with Tyrie Cleveland in man coverage. There is still talk about Franks’ youth. You should be talking about that arm, and the fact two redshirt freshman quarterbacks recently won the Heisman in back-to-back years and a true freshman quarterback just led Alabama to within one snap of a national title.
You might see excuses. I see big-play potential. Finally.
What I don’t see is a coach who sees and believes in the same thing.
Will that change today? That’s what I want to see against Kentucky, a team fully capable of beating a conservative Gators team.
1. Somebody’s gotta go: Bret Bielema hasn’t beaten Kevin Sumlin. He’s 0-4. He might not get a chance to go 0-6.
A Texas A&M loss would put the Aggies at 2-2, staring directly into a gauntlet that could leave them 2-7. Nobody already on a hot seat would survive that.
Such is life in this league. At least it’s an extremely well-paid life.