Impactful Coaching Moves: The best and worst decisions of Week 11
Week 11 was an interesting one in the SEC. Alabama backed up its dominating win against LSU with an equally impressive win at Mississippi State, while the Tigers didn’t bounce back well in a surprisingly tame home loss to suddenly resurgent Arkansas.
Georgia and Vanderbilt won with stable quarterback play and solid defense over Auburn and Kentucky, respectively, while Florida kept stride on its march to Atlanta with a workman-like victory over South Carolina.
As always, there are plenty of positive coaching moves on which we could reflect. Of course, there are also some decisions worthy of criticism.
With that in mind, here are the best and worst coaching decisions from around the SEC in Week 11:
Three different quarterbacks have thrown passes for Georgia this season. Greyson Lambert won the job coming into the season and started well. He then faded, opening the door for Faton Bauta, and to a lesser degree, Brice Ramsey, to take their turns at the controls of the Bulldogs offense.
It’s been a bit messy at the position in recent weeks, but coach Mark Richt stayed with Lambert for the Week 11 game with Auburn, and was rewarded with a 20-13 win.
Lambert was OK, going 12-for-17 for 97 yards, but most importantly, he didn’t turn the ball over. Credit offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer for a game plan designed to limit Lambert’s exposure to pressure situations while relying on the running game and the defense to carry the day.
Check and check.
The loss to Alabama last weekend was as emphatic as it was demoralizing for LSU. So much so that the Tigers may have allowed the Crimson Tide to beat them twice.
Take nothing away from Arkansas, which came to Death Valley for a dreaded night game and took the home team behind the woodshed. But LSU was completely unready to play in this football game.
It was 21-0 before anyone’s wings had a chance to get cold, and even though it eventually cut the deficit to 7 points, LSU was never really in the game.
You have to knock coach Les Miles a bit for the team not looking as if it was ready to play, but for me, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron’s approach to this game was all wrong.
The Tigers passed the ball on seven of their first 12 plays, netting them 12 total yards, while falling into a 14-0 hole.
Quarterback Brandon Harris was sacked five times for -44 yards, a figure that makes the rushing total (30 carries for 59 yards) look all the more awful.
Clearly, Cameron thought he had a good matchup against the Razorbacks secondary. He should have been thinking about more ways to get the ball to Leonard Fournette.
A couple of weeks ago, Vanderbilt’s defense almost single-handedly won the day against Florida in a narrow 9-7 defeat. Just a little bit of good quarterback play would have won them that contest.
Enter Kyle Shurmer. The true freshman from Philadelphia missed the game against Florida with a head injury, but his two touchdown passes were instrumental in the Commodores’ 21-17 victory in Week 11.
It may have been tempting for coach Derek Mason to leave Johnny McCrary in at quarterback, rather than playing a true freshman off an injury. Credit to Mason for knowing his personnel — and for finding some offense to go with that stingy defense.
The sign of any good coaching staff is the ability to adjust to what it sees from an opponent in the middle of a given game.
That didn’t happen on either side of the ball for South Carolina in a 24-14 loss to Florida.
The offense, under the direction of G.A. Mangus, stuck with the same formations and personnel in a futile attempt to run the ball, managing only 21 yards on 23 tries. Perry Orth went virtually the whole way while the more mobile Lorenzo Nunez barely saw the field.
Read option looks tend to work better with mobile quarterbacks.
On defense, Florida converted 11 of its 19 third-down chances. Often, Treon Harris stood unmolested in the backfield and looked off two or three receivers before finding an open receiver.
Jon Hoke and Lorenzo Ward’s defense has been much-maligned this season — and rightly so. But on Saturday, it was far too timid far too often.