Even in the best football conference in America, things go wrong sometimes.
A few weeks ago we brought you the most pleasant surprises in the SEC. Now it’s time for the other side of the coin as we consider the biggest disappointments for each team about halfway into the season.
I don’t root for anybody here, but I had to admit one game on Saturday made me happy. Otherwise the first team on this list would have been really hard to shop for.
These are in alphabetical order by division.
The defensive performance against Arkansas. It’s weird to pick an aspect of a 34-point win, but that’s where we are with Bama. The Crimson Tide allowed a season-high 31 points and 405 yards to a bad Razorbacks team. First string, second string, seventh string, whatever — that should not happen.
Where to start? There are signs of recent progress. But there are so many things to choose from during a 1-5 start (0-3 SEC), but the game against North Texas has to be the pick of the litter. Allowing an OK (but just OK) Conference USA program to come into your house and blow your doors off has to be infuriating.
The offense in general and Jarrett Stidham in particular — though Tigers fans are blaming Gus Malzahn for both. Stidham should be taking a leap forward after last season but he simply has not, and the whole offense has been inconsistent. The Tigers are 12th in the SEC in total offense, and that’s something few would have predicted.
The Kentucky game. Not just in losing to the Wildcats at home for the first time since forever, but in the way the team played. The Gators did not look ready to compete and Kentucky answered the bell. The Gators must have felt that disappointment keenly because they have been terrific since.
Again, like the Crimson Tide, how can anybody find any disappointment in an unbeaten start to the season? The penalties are too obvious. Hmmmm … how about specific areas of the defense? Georgia has just 6 sacks, tied for No. 116 nationally. Turnovers? Georgia has forced just 1.5 per game, which is tied for eighth in the SEC. Of course the Bulldogs have only turned it over three times.
It’s hard to be disappointed by the SEC’s biggest surprise. Even last week’s loss to Texas A&M showed that the Wildcats have plenty of grit. It’s perhaps a little bit of a downer that Kentucky has not developed a lot of dangerous weapons beyond Benny Snell; this team is not an aerial threat.
The Tigers had a pretty nice thing going until Saturday’s loss to Florida. The Swamp is a tough place to win and that rivalry is fierce, but the Tigers have to be disappointed that they took it on the chin right before a critical 3-game stretch against Georgia, Mississippi State and Alabama.
As much excitement as Nick Fitzgerald has caused with his record-breaking running, the Bulldogs are still not enough of a threat through the air. Their defense is outstanding so the offense does not even need to pitch in that much. Just a little better passing would make this team truly dangerous.
Drew Lock’s senior season is not going to plan. Yes, the Tigers are third in the SEC in passing, but Lock has just 11 touchdowns and 1,487 yards passing, both way behind last season’s pace. He hasn’t thrown a TD pass in either of the past two games. The team is not quite putting it all together and that likely hurts Lock’s NFL Draft stock.
The defense. What else? The Rebels were putrid on defense last season, so it is shocking that they have managed to get worse. Ole Miss is allowing 501.8 yards a game, a full 100 yards more than the next-worst team and 124th out of 130 FBS teams. That’s even worse than their No. 116 spot in 2017.
The Georgia game. There was so much hope and so much hype in Columbia, with many believing that this was the year South Carolina might catch Georgia off guard. Instead the Gamecocks were flattened 41-17 on Sept. 8 and most fans left early.
See Arkansas. It’s hard to know where to start, and it’s important to remember that this is a rebuilding process. Still, it’s one thing to lose to two top rivals like Florida and Georgia. It’s another level of disappointment to barely even put up any fight against either.
The Aggies have forced just 2 turnovers all season — two interceptions and zero fumbles. That’s not only last in the SEC by a wide margin but also dead last among 130 FBS teams in the nation. A&M has to give its offense more short fields.
The passing defense. Vandy’s pass D was one of the few highlights last season, ranking 26th in the country at 194.6 yards allowed per game (though the team was way worse in SEC games). But this season the Commodores are 81st in the FBS at an average of 233.3 passing yards against.