6 takeaways from Week 4 in the SEC
Week 4 in the SEC saw the continued struggles of Auburn and Ole Miss, but it also saw some dominating performances…think Leonard Fournette. Here’s a look at some takeaways from the weekend that was in the conference:
Heisman Among Boys: With all due respect to Georgia running back Nick Chubb, Leonard Fournette is the best player in the SEC — quite possibly the nation. It appears that only an injury can slow the LSU running back at this point. Fournette rushed for more than 200 yards for the second consecutive week, this time torching a very capable Syracuse run defense for 244 yards and 2 touchdowns. The sophomore’s 631 rushing yards this season are more than the team rushing totals for Kentucky (620 team rushing yards), Florida (619), Mississippi State (579), Vanderbilt (548) and Missouri (428). It appears that we’ll just have to wait and see who joins the sophomore among the other Heisman candidates in December.
RELATED: Fournette torches Syracuse
Run, Lorenzo, Run: Sure it was against a reeling Central Florida (0-4) team, but it appears Lorenzo Nunez has earned another start for South Carolina. Just the second true freshman to start a game in Steve Spurrier’s 26-year coaching career, Nunez threw for 184 yards and 2 touchdowns, as well as rushing for another 123 yards in South Carolina’s 31-14 win over the Knights. Nunez’ biggest accomplishment in his starting debut for the Gamecocks might be incorporating Pharoh Cooper back into the offense. Cooper caught a touchdown and went for 68 yards in the air, as well as 27 yards and another score on the ground. Nunez provided the spark the stagnant South Carolina offense needed. If Nunez is back under center come next week, he’ll get a road matchup against Missouri.
RELATED: Nunez better than expected in debut
Rocky Bottom: Butch Jones might be in trouble in Knoxville. Volunteer Nation is calling for the Tennessee coach’s head after Tennessee experience another late-game collapse in a contest they should have won. First it was Oklahoma leading the charge. OK, Baker Mayfield is a special player. But coughing up a late-lead to Florida in a game they essentially controlled for 57 minutes, doesn’t bode well for a coach who needed a big year to live up to the preseason hype surrounding his squad. Here’s a sobering thought for Volunteer fans: Jones’ 14-15 record after 29 games is identical to the much-maligned Derek Dooley, the man Jones replaced. Once again, play calling is at the center of Jones’ defeat. Jones’ offense fell flat in the second have and has fans yelling “too conservative!” once again. It was Jones decision not to go for a two-point conversion to put the Vols up by 28, that will be second-guessed for ages — along with his decision to kick a field goal on fourth-and-one against Oklahoma on the game’s opening drive. Jones is running out of time to prove that he’s as good as an X’s and O’s coach as he is a recruiter.
Hogs Inept or Not: Despite a 1-3 record, perhaps Arkansas isn’t as inept as previously thought. The Razorbacks held their own against Texas A&M, before eventually losing 28-21 in overtime.. With Texas Tech putting TCU on the ropes in Week 4, the loss to the Red Raiders isn’t as much of a blemish. Granted, there’s no excuse or explanation for Arkansas’ loss to Toledo. But whether that was a bad day or the result from an over-hyped team not ready for the big time, will be truly determined with a brutal upcoming slate that includes Alabama, Ole Miss, LSU, Mississippi State and Missouri. Bret Bielema’s squad was strong again (Alex Collins, 151 yards) on the ground behind the staunch offensive line that yielded its first sack of the season in Week 4 against the Aggies. But the key for Arkansas moving forward will be getting consistency from Brandon Allen. After throwing for 720 yards in his first two games, Allen has averaged just 210.5 yards per game in the ensuing two contests. If Arkansas can get out of their own way, perhaps there’s hope yet for this season–but that’s a major “if.”
RELATED: Hogs own worst enemy in loss
Auburn QB Still In The Air: The quarterback situation in Auburn is still tenuous. Sean White made his Tigers debut in Week 4 and was fairly mediocre. The redshirt freshman connected on 20 of 28 passes for 188 yards and his only completion in the end zone went to Mississippi State defensive back Will Redmond. White replaced a wildly ineffective Jeremy Johnson, who averaged 157.7 YPG before being benched. If White is still under center next week, he’ll begin a three-game stretch of winnable games for the Tigers against San Jose State, Kentucky and Arkansas. It could be a nice confidence booster for a program in serious need of one right now — especially with contests against Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Georgia and Alabama in four of their final five weeks.
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Sunshine State Love: It’s time for Florida to get some love. It hasn’t been pretty this year in Gainesville, but Jim McElwain’s squad is 4-0, thanks to an impressive come-from-behind win over Tennessee. While most of the talk is about the Volunteers’ collapse, credit needs to be given to the Gators, who hung tough and capitalized late with touchdowns on their final two drives to pull off the 28-27 shocker. Will Grier (283 passing yards, 2 touchdowns) was composed and in charge when it mattered most. With back-up Treon Harris on the bench due to a suspension, the quarterback platoon is over in Florida and McElwain has his starting quarterback. The win was the second conference game in a row for Florida that came down to the very end, having held off Kentucky with a defensive stand a week prior. You can’t teach late-game poise, and right now Florida has it. They’ll need that experience in the coming weeks as Ole Miss, Missouri, LSU and Georgia are up next on the Gators’ schedule.
RELATED: Florida pulls off miracle finish