First impressions on every SEC game in Week 6
Fire up the Bon Jovi because we’re halfway there, folks.
If you can forgive that awful reference, let’s talk about things that we think we know.
For starters, Alabama is heads and shoulders above the SEC, even without Jaylen Waddle. We know that Georgia is also an elite team, albeit with a not-quite-elite offense. We know that Vandy is the worst team in the SEC.
Sorry, that was mean.
Outside of that, well, there’s a whole lot left to figure out. Are Florida and LSU going to be offensive-fueled teams that can’t reach contender levels because of their defenses? And what about Texas A&M? Are the Aggies finding their groove under Jimbo Fisher?
The good news is that instead of 6 idle teams in the SEC like this past weekend, there are only 2 idle teams this weekend. Let’s look ahead to those matchups:
Georgia vs. Kentucky — The Cats have to get creative offensively
Boring, slow and predictable. Those are 3 words that nobody wants to describe their offense. But for Eddie Gran, that’s absolutely been the case. I don’t get why the Cats don’t take more chances downfield and why it seems like they want to play the entire game within a 10-yard box. I get it. The ground game is the strength. But goodness, sooner or later, you have to trust that Terry Wilson isn’t going to make mistakes or get hurt.
Disciplined, deep, relentless. Those are 3 words that everyone wants to describe their defense. For Kirby Smart and Dan Lanning, that’s absolutely been the case. If Kentucky insists on being boring against Georgia, who will be coming off a bye and a frustrating defensive showing, the Cats will get shut out for the 2nd consecutive year.
LSU vs. Auburn — The battle of disappointing, high-priced new coordinators
Ah, Chad Morris vs. Bo Pelini. What a chess match. Neither coordinator has earned his paycheck yet, though both did have a “settle the masses” type of showing in Week 5. That’s the good news. The bad news is that both are running overly complicated systems that their teams don’t exactly seem to be taking to. This is the type of game where whichever coordinator falters, it’ll be “how could they struggle against that coordinator.”
Lost in the shuffle of LSU’s domination of South Carolina was the fact that Kevin Harris was still plenty effective. Tank Bigsby is a nightmare to tackle, especially for a team like LSU that hasn’t really enjoyed that part of football so far. Morris is mistaken if he doesn’t give Bigsby another 20-plus carries, especially given how difficult it’s been for Auburn to scheme receivers open.
Common sense has to win out … right?
Ole Miss vs. Vanderbilt — Expect even more John Rhys Plumlee
You knew we were gonna see more Plumlee after Matt Corral’s 6-interception day against Arkansas. It was a guarantee that we were gonna see more Plumlee after Lane Kiffin fired off this pregame tweet:
Thanks for the gifts this week @Jumpman23 @CoachMikeBianco @bluedeltajeans Gameday #baseballbatmentalitygame #beatauburn Maybe @Coach_Leb will finally play this guy!! 😂. LFG!!!!! pic.twitter.com/FbhXkWbleb
— Lane Kiffin (@Lane_Kiffin) October 24, 2020
Ah, Kiffin. Never change.
We saw Plumlee interchanged a lot more, and for the most part, it worked. He had a season-high 9 touches, including a season-high 37-yard run. As crazy as it sounds with how well that Ole Miss offense had been working, Plumlee in the ground game hadn’t really been a thing yet. His season-long run was previously 7 yards.
Against Vandy, this is the perfect opportunity to experiment even more. Kiffin wants that on film so that teams have to spend more time preparing for Plumlee. I’ll make another bold prediction. Plumlee hasn’t had multiple pass attempts in a game yet. I bet he hits 5 against Vandy.
NOW we’re talkin’.
MSU vs. Alabama — Will we even notice that MSU had a bye week in terms of adjustments?
I’m talking strictly offense here. MSU defensive coordinator Zach Arnett has actually been willing to do that from game-to-game and within a game. Mike Leach? Yeah, not so much. It’s Air Raid or bust. Alabama, assuming it hasn’t had its head buried in the sand for the first time ever, will want to rush 3 and drop 8. At least one would assume it’ll do that the majority of the time. This has the makings of a breakout game for Christian Barmore, who might bat down a half dozen passes against that woeful MSU offensive line.
Who knows what Kylin Hill’s status is moving forward, but if he has a pulse, Leach would be wise to use him as a running back. That doesn’t mean just exclusively throw him swing passes without any separation. But Alabama hasn’t been perfect defending the run. This seems like the perfect time to actually trust that element. Then again, I said the same thing for MSU before the A&M game and we all know how that turned out.
Mizzou vs. Florida — This cannot be a sleeper game for Florida
Since Mizzou joined the SEC, I think that the casual fan would be surprised at how well it performed against Florida. It’s an even split. That’s right. Four wins for Mizzou, 4 wins for Florida. Which team has won by 3 scores more? Mizzou. What’s the crazy thing? Seven of the 8 games have been decided by at least 3 scores, which includes last year.
In other words, no, there’s absolutely no excuse for Florida to overlook Mizzou. The Tigers already beat LSU and Kentucky in completely different ways. They can make in-game adjustments and they can absolutely stay on the field for 60 minutes against teams with superior talent. Who knows how the Gators will look coming off the COVID absence? Who knows? But this isn’t the type of team who Florida can be sluggish against, which I’d argue they were for a good chunk of last year’s contest.
Arkansas vs. Texas A&M — Can we call this the battle for No. 2 in the West?
No, I didn’t see that title coming.
I’ve been asking that question for the last week while both teams were on bye. Arkansas is a missed call from being 3-1 with its lone loss coming against Georgia while A&M is 3-1 with a lone loss coming to Alabama. I’d say that’s more worthy of being the battle for No. 2 in the West instead of LSU-Auburn.
Arkansas has shown up prepared every week so far, and coming off a bye, I wouldn’t expect any different even though this is a road game this year. A&M won’t be overlooking Arkansas. This is the type of letdown that Fisher and Co. need to avoid against an upset-happy Arkansas team. Sooner or later, the Hogs aren’t going to feel like the underdog.
Perhaps this is the game where they show they’re much more than a feel-good story.