Why they lost, Week 12: Plenty of blame to spread around SEC
Moral victories were nonexistent Saturday in the SEC, where there was more than enough blame to go around.
Head scratchers? There were several.
Let’s begin Week 12 of the Blame Game in Fayetteville …
- Lost 51-50 to Mississippi State
1. Prevent offense (60 percent): Bret Bielema isn’t Riverboat Ron Rivera, but his decision to go for 2 and the win in overtime at Ole Miss was as gutsy as his decision to play it safe Saturday was strange.
His QB, Brandon Allen, had thrown a school-record 7 TD passes. He had driven the Razorbacks into scoring position when Bielema threw up a stop sign.
Allen had thrown — and completed — five consecutive passes to move Arkansas from its 11 to Mississippi State’s 19. The Bulldogs hadn’t stopped him all night.
Arkansas then ran on three consecutive plays. The object was to drain the clock and center the ball for kicker Cole Hedlund. It backfired mightily.
Bielema essentially pulled his ace, who was perfect through eight, and his closer blew it.
2. Just one stop? (35 percent): Arkansas went on a 28-0 run to wipe out an early 17-point deficit — then gave up 20 points in the fourth quarter.
Third-down wasn’t the issue because the Razorbacks couldn’t push Dak Prescott behind the chains. During the Bulldogs’ final two TD drives — of 68 and 82 yards — Prescott faced two 3rd-and-1s and one 3rd-and-5.
3. Blocked kick (5 percent): Yes, an SEC kicking team should be able to execute a 29-yard field goal attempt, but even doing so was no guarantee of victory. Prescott still had 39 seconds to drive the Bulldogs into field goal position.
- Lost 23-22 to The Citadel
1. Could not stop them. Could not stop them. Could not stop them (95.3 percent): Nick Saban might have trademarked the speech by now, and he wasn’t even talking about The Citadel or South Carolina, but he certainly could have been after the Bulldogs ran 61 times for 350 yards and all three touchdowns.
The 95.3 percent? That equals the Bulldogs’ run-to-pass ratio Saturday.
2. Red zone breakdowns (3.7 percent): 1st-and-10 at the 23; 1st-and-goal at the 8. The Gamecocks moved the ball, but fell behind early when two drives stalled and resulted in field goals.
3. Pre-snap penalties (1 percent): It wasn’t just false start that wiped out the 95-yard touchdown pass from Perry Orth to Pharoh Cooper in the final minute. A false start also hampered their first scoring drive.
- Lost 38-17 to Mississippi
1. Couldn’t change stripes (60 percent): LSU is what it is, and despite all of the talk radio nonsense that Les Miles needs to find a QB (tomorrow!), wholesale changes to personnel or scheme in Week 12 are as unrealistic as they are haphazard.
2. Chad Kelly is better than Brandon Harris (30 percent): It’s never quite this simple, except for when it is. Kelly controlled the game with his arm and legs. The guy beat Alabama, too.
3. Turnovers (10 percent): LSU had more total yards, absolutely dominated time of possession and got another 100-yard performance from Leonard Fournette. That’s usually a winning recipe, and it might have been were it not for 3 turnovers. The first one — a Harris interception near midfield that Christian Russell returned to LSU’s 11 — set up an easy TD and put the Tigers in a 24-0 hole.
- Lost 19-8 to Tennessee
1. Inadequate QB play (70 percent): Drew Lock wasn’t supposed to be in this situation this season, and he continues to play like a freshman who isn’t ready. Missouri has lost 5 of 6, and in each loss, Lock has completed fewer than 45 percent of his passes, hasn’t thrown a TD pass but has five interceptions.
UT’s defense held Missouri to five plays or less on 10 of 13 possessions, with six three-and-outs. Missouri totaled 223 yards.
— Jimmy Hyams (@JimmyHyams) November 22, 2015
I honestly can't tell how much credit #Vols' defense deserves for this performance because #Missouri's offense is so bad.
— Ryan Callahan (@RyanCallahan247) November 22, 2015
2. Missouri didn’t pitch a shutout (30 percent): Missouri held Tennessee to one touchdown — and never really had a chance.
That’s where we’re at with this Tigers team. The offense has scored 3, 6, 3, 13 and 8 points in those five losses. If Missouri doesn’t score on special teams or defense, it has virtually no chance, no matter how few points its defense allows.
- Lost 25-0 to Texas A&M
1. An offensive performance (100 percent): There’s no need to overanalyze or pile on. The only SEC offense worse than Missouri’s is … Vanderbilt’s.
They had almost three times more penalty yards (68) than passing yards (23).
The Commodores completed just five passes and were shut out for the second time in four games. Their 154 points this season is the fewest in the SEC — almost 300 fewer than leader Ole Miss (445).
FINAL: A&M 25, Vanderbilt 0. Total offense: A&M 486, Vandy 148.
— VandySportscom (@VandySportscom) November 22, 2015
Despite no passing game, Ralph Webb still gained a more-than-respectable 79 yards on 25 carries.
Ralph Webb just topped 1,000 yards rushing for the season. He is the 5th player in school history with 1,000 yards.
— Vanderbilt Football (@VandyFootball) November 22, 2015
Maybe Marcus Spears thought Vandy’s defense might score.
#SECNation Picks | #TAMUvsVANDY @TimTebow – Texas A&M @mspear96 – Vanderbilt @finebaum – Texas A&M pic.twitter.com/yP04d8QKkw
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) November 21, 2015