Pick-6: Jalen, Burrow, the real DBU among biggest storylines in a loaded Week 7
Finally, a nearly full slate of SEC games.
And, as a bonus, some serious intrigue in other parts of the country.
Here are the 6 topics I’ll be following closely today in and around the SEC, starting with the most obvious …
1. Can Florida slow down Joe Burrow and the high-flying Tigers?
The Gators have some gaudy defensive numbers — the most impressive and important being the 9.5 points per game they allow. That leads the SEC and is 5th in the nation.
Tonight, they’ll face the high-scoring outfit in the country.
Florida has allowed 6 TDs all season. LSU is averaging 7 — per game. Florida has allowed 57 points all season. LSU is averaging 55 — per game.
Florida has taken down a couple of brand names in Miami and Auburn, but the Gators haven’t seen anything close to what they’ll encounter tonight.
Joe Burrow already has 22 TD passes. The 4 Power 5 starting QBs Florida has faced this season have combined for 26.
Which gives? I have a feeling both averages will feel the brunt of the other’s force tonight in Baton Rouge, but anything fewer than 3 TD passes from Burrow will feel like a disappointment for him and the Tigers.
2. John Rhys Plumlee’s legs vs. Missouri’s run defense
In Week 1, who could have predicted that this would be the most interesting aspect of this game?
Plumlee was supposed to be watching Matt Corral. Instead, he’s reeled off back-to-back 100-yard games against Alabama and Vanderbilt. With 327 yards, he’s the Rebels’ 2nd-leading rusher behind Scottie Phillips.
Missouri lost a couple of key players off a defense that finished 4th against the run last season. A drop was a reasonable expectation, although nobody expected Mizzou to give up 297 yards rushing in the strange season opening loss at Wyoming.
They rebounded, though. The Tigers have allowed 147 rushing yards combined and 1 rushing TD in the 4 games since.
Now they’re without leader and leading-tackler Cale Garrett, who was leading the SEC with 8.6 stops per game before injuring his pectoral last week. Garrett will miss the rest of the season.
Plumlee is barely completing 50 percent of his passes. There will be no scheming secrets today. Ole Miss is going to try to run Missouri out of the stadium.
3. Mississippi State vs. Tennessee: Which true freshman backup-turned-starting QB shines?
Both offenses seemed to play better after the Week 1 backup became the starter.
Mississippi State’s sample size is larger with Garrett Shrader, who replaced the injured Tommy Stevens.
Tennessee’s Brian Maurer made his first career start last week against Georgia. He did more than survive. He threw 2 TD passes, including a potential throw-of-the-week candidate when he hit a streaking Marquez Callaway for a 73-yard TD. That throw brought life to Neyland Stadium.
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) October 5, 2019
True freshman vs. true freshman, just like we all expected.
4. Will Chad Morris pick up his 1st SEC win tonight?
ESPN’s FPI says “a resounding no.” The computer gives Arkansas just a 19.8% chance of beating Kentucky on the road tonight.
If not tonight, it’s fair to wonder if or when this season?
Kentucky’s run defense has some issues, to put it mildly. The Cats have allowed 241 and 247 yards in their past 2 SEC games against Mississippi State and South Carolina, respectively. Florida only ran for 138, but all 3 teams ran for 3 TDs against the Cats.
Rakeem Boyd’s season-high for carries is 20. It’s time to exceed that.
5. Go on, Jalen
If you’re a regular reader, you know I’ve driven the Jalen Hurts bus since the spring game of his freshman year at Alabama.
I’m not hopping off.
I want to see Hurts continue to put up video game numbers with his arm and awareness today in the Red River Shootout against No. 11 Texas.
I’m not sure why people are so low on the Sooners. They’re No. 6 in the AP Poll. I’ve had them in the top 4 of my Playoff poll every week. Part of that is what they do holds up well in January. They’ve proven that, twice in a row. Sure, they lost both times to SEC teams, but those SEC teams didn’t slow them down. They survived.
This year, Oklahoma finally has a defense, too. Tune in at noon. Consider it Playoff scouting. Watch Hurts do his thing. It’ll be a treat.
6. Can Alabama get after Kellen Mond?
Nobody’s really talking about it, because injuries and youth are easier and more obvious, but Alabama isn’t getting after the quarterback. That’s impacting everything else.
The Tide have 10 sacks in 5 games.
The last time the Tide averaged 2.0 sacks per game under Nick Saban? That would be 2013, the year that prompted Saban to stay in attack mode.
Alabama is coming off a bye week, and I fully expect to see 4 or more sacks today against Kellen Mond. Remember, Alabama got him 7 times last year. Different personnel, to be sure. Healthier, older and wiser last year, too.
Regardless, Alabama still has enough veterans who still remember what the standard is around there. The first 5 games wasn’t it.