5 numbers that will be impossible for SEC teams to reproduce in 2021
For decades, we heard about how SEC defenses were built different, sturdier, faster, angrier … simply better than every other conference.
Then Ohio State and Clemson and Oklahoma each topped 40 points against the SEC’s best teams in various Playoff games and that aura of immovability began to shatter a bit.
Last year should have convinced everybody that the days of 9-6 are gone for good.
Forget 3-and-out. It’s an offensive world, and defenses are just trying to get off the field after only giving up 3.
As such, we’ve seen several SEC teams break program and league records in various offensive categories.
We hadn’t even finished anointing 2019 LSU as the greatest offense in college football history before Alabama went out and topped the Tigers’ scoring average in 2020 — with, ahem, 11 of those end zone parties occurring against SEC defenses.
At the risk of saying we’re never going to see that again, here are 5 mostly offensive numbers from 2020 that we most certainly will not see repeated in 2021.
Alabama averaging 48.5 points per game
The Tide scored a program-record 684 points in 2018 … and set an SEC record by averaging 48.5 points per game in 2020. That broke LSU’s SEC record of 48.4 in 2019.
Alabama will score plenty this year, and the Tide will benefit by playing 4 nonconference games. But Nick Saban typically doesn’t intentionally run up the score against outmanned nonconference opponents. The notable nonconference opponent is Miami — Bama’s opener — which hasn’t allowed 40 points in a September game since 2015.
As much as you might like Bryce Young, I’m not overly optimistic he opens his era with a 300-yard, 5-TD kind of day against the Canes.
Bama’s offense will regress a bit in 2021 but still score north of 40 per game for the 4th consecutive year.
LSU allowing 24 touchdown passes
Sure, passing TDs are up everywhere, but LSU hadn’t allowed 24 or more in a season since 2001. Then came last year.
The only solace to that sobering number is the fact Florida somehow allowed 28 TD passes last season. (Florida won’t allow that many again, either, but that prediction seems too obvious to include.)
Ed Orgeron hired DC Daronte Jones to fix this. The personnel is there. It’s also a money year for Derek Stingley. I doubt LSU will allow single-digit TD throws — everybody in the SEC allowed at least 15 last season — but getting under 20 has to be the expectation.
Alabama making every FG, PAT attempt
Extra points should be automatic. They most certainly are not.
Especially (and strangely) at Alabama, which missed 3 PATs in 2019 and an NCAA-worst 9 in 2018.
Will Reichard didn’t miss a single kick in 2020: He was a perfect 14-for-14 on field goals and 84-for-84 on extra points.
The best Bama fans can hope for is when an inevitable miss happens in 2021, it’s at the tail end of a blowout.
Florida throwing 40+ TD passes
Kyle Trask (43), Emory Jones (2) and Anthony Richardson (1) helped the Gators throw for 46 TD passes in 2020. That ranks No. 2 in program annals, 2 shy of matching the school record set in 1995 and just the 6th time any Gators team topped 40 in a season.
Trask is gone and Jones hasn’t shown (yet) that his arm is as game-breaking as his legs.
Keep in mind, many observers offered the same limited scouting report on Justin Fields, and all he did was throw 41 TD passes and nearly win the Heisman in his first year at Ohio State.
So we’ll be fair to Jones and acknowledge that Florida still has some weapons in the passing game. Let’s set a reasonable but respectable bar of 30 TD passes for the Gators, who failed to reach that mark from 2009-2018.
Mississippi State rushing for 43.91 yards per game
Mississippi State wants no part of another sub-50-yard rushing output per game. Mike Leach has to punish SEC defenses that essentially line up with 8 defensive backs, and the best way to do that is to get the big boys upfront moving downhill.
The Bulldogs averaged 2.37 yards per carry last season. You have to go back to 2011 Tennessee to find a comparably non-existent SEC rushing offense. Those Vols averaged 2.76 yards per carry and 90.08 yards per game.
Leach will figure it out, but that starts with understanding every SEC West defense he faces has multiple future NFL players in the back 7 or 8.
A suitable output this season would be closer to 100 yards per game. Still nothing close to outstanding and probably still last in the SEC, but it’s a reasonable expectation considering the Bulldogs closed last season by rushing for 151 and 123 yards, respectively, in wins over Missouri and Tulsa. They also rushed a season-high 28 times and then 30 in those 2 games.
That has the be the game plan and mindset moving forward.