It has been an eventful first half of action in the SEC this season.
Three teams have put up strong performances and look to be distancing themselves from the rest of the pack. Alabama, Auburn, and Georgia are all ranked inside the Top 10 of the AP Poll and look to have what it takes to compete for the SEC championship.
Nick Saban, Gus Malzahn, and Kirby Smart have all done a great job as a head coach this year, but one of them has been particularly impressive. According to ESPN’s Mark Schlabach, Smart is his mid-season pick for Coach of the Year:
Smart is changing the culture and perception of the Bulldogs in his second season. Even more impressive, he’s winning while starting a true freshman QB for the second season in a row. UGA ranks No. 1 in defensive efficiency according to ESPN’s Football Power Index and has scored on all 23 of its trips to the red zone.
It is hard to disagree with the selection. Georgia is firing on all cylinders under Smart and has the kind of powerful run game and stingy defense that could carry the Bulldogs to a title. He has also done well off the field by grabbing a number of key recruits for the 2018 class.
Unfortunately for Butch Jones, things have gone sideways for Tennessee this season. The Volunteers are 3-2 but remain without a win in SEC play. What’s worse is that the two losses came against heated rivals Florida and Georgia. Georgia even managed to shutout the Vols in Knoxville.
Jones is struggling, and Schlabach believes his seat is the hottest in the country:
Jones liked to say he was rebuilding the Tennessee program “brick by brick,” but the wall came crashing down this season. The Volunteers lost to Florida on a Hail Mary and then fell to Georgia 41-0, their worst home loss since 1905.
There are a number of games still to be played, but Jones needs wins in a hurry to turn things around.