SEC Report Card, Week 6: Kudos to 'Bama, Texas A&M
One game was (hopefully temporarily) postponed, one was postponed a day, and two teams were off. Still, enough teams were in action to add significant clarify to the SEC races. While there were less Saturday games than usual, there was no shortage of good football. So it’s report card time again.
As per our tradition, we’ll give each team a grade and then pick a couple of teams for hall passes (good work) or detention (bad work) on offense, defense, special teams, and coaching.
This was some solid, solid work by the Crimson Tide in a game that many expected to stay competitive. Alabama has proven that they are head and shoulders above all comers in the SEC — except for the next two teams on their schedule.
Auburn was the better team in their convincing win over Mississippi State and it wasn’t close. If Auburn runs the ball this well and defends the run this well, they’ll pull a significant upset over the second half of the season.
Texas A&M: B
Good marks for grit and managing to hang on. Bad marks for nearly faltering away a 28-7 second half lead into a loss. Tennessee gashed the Aggies for major chunks of yardage, but A&M saved the day by creating a ton of turnovers. But Alabama isn’t going to turn the ball over half a dozen times.
On the one hand, Arkansas passed for 400 yards and did end up scoring 30 points. But on the other hand, they were never competitive with Alabama, and could well fade to the middle of the pack in the SEC down this season’s stretch run.
Mississippi State: D+
Not only was the State offense hopeless for most of the game, but the defense was gashed early and often by Auburn. State’s game with Kentucky in two weeks is looking more and more like a bowl elimination game.
We’ll see how the Tigers fare against the Gators… sometime?
Ole Miss: Incomplete
The Rebels had a bye this weekend.
It wasn’t pretty (See 49 total passing yards), but Kentucky gutted out a ground-based win over an equally lethargic Vandy team. If QB Drew Barker can return from injury to give UK an actual passing threat, the Wildcats could yet find their way to six wins.
The Bulldogs’ ground game finally looked the way it was expected to in the preseason, rumbling for a season-high 326 yards. That said, Jacob Eason regressed into looking like a true freshman. UGA team is hard to figure.
It was a loss, and it featured seven turnovers. That said, Tennessee showed incredible resolve in refusing — again — to lose when it looked likely. The Vols fought and clawed and almost pulled off another historic win. Push all the chips to the middle of the table next week for Alabama. Tennessee hasn’t played a bigger game in many years.
Scoring 13 points on a Kentucky defense that spent the first three games of the season getting whiplash from watching people run and pass over, around, and through them isn’t going to win any awards. I don’t think Derek Mason will get fired, but I think his 2017 season is starting to look very pivotal.
South Carolina: C-
The Gamecocks are improving, but the ground game couldn’t get untracked, and thus a decent passing game from Perry Orth was wasted. Hard to draw any real conclusions about Will Muschamp’s future from this first USC team. But the first thing he told reporters after the game was every job was open.
This game has to get made up. Hurricanes and human lives are definitely more important, but there is no reason two functioning athletic departments can’t figure out the logistics to make this game happen. Here’s hoping they do.
The Tigers had a bye this weekend.
Alabama: They pass for 250, they run for 250, they score a ton of points — on defense, too — and keep rolling on.
Auburn: The Tigers stopped throwing the ball, but racked up 200 yards easily, and then ground out another 228. Very solid work.
Vanderbilt: Under 300 yards and 13 points against a Kentucky defense that has been a sieve this season is just unacceptable. They waste Ralph Webb miserably.
Mississippi State: Stumbled and looked clueless against a better opponent. Mullen’s bowl streak is in jeopardy.
Alabama: Sure, they gave up 400 passing yards and 30 points. But they took a top-flight offense out of its game, and managed their eighth non-offensive score of the season. For comparison’s sake, Kentucky is 2-2 in the SEC and has five total touchdowns in those four games.
Texas A&M: Sure, they were gashed for tons of yardage. But they created seven turnovers, ending the game with No. 7. The “D” had plenty to do with going to 6-0 on the year.
Arkansas: Failed to even slow Alabama down, and wasted a relatively decent showing by their offense.
Tennessee: Struggled early and dug a hole which was just too big to dig out of. Injuries have hurt them badly.
Kentucky: Two field goals, a recovered fumble by the punt coverage team, and one poor kick coverage play aside, a very solid special teams game for the Wildcats.
Texas A&M: Don’t miss 38-yard field goals to win a game. Just don’t do it.
Texas A&M: Kevin Sumlin somehow kept his team focused in the middle of another insane UT comeback. Good enough.
Kentucky: Mark Stoops took a bad team, lost the pocket passer it was built around to injury, and somehow got it to 3-3.
Mississippi State: Can’t come out that flat against a superior opponent.