SEC report card for Week 9: Surprises good and bad
Some of the best students in the SEC class were off this week … and some who were expected to be good students left us wishing they were off.
There are more than a few surprises, and it’s time to tip your hat to two head coaches who have had Lazarus seasons. But first, let’s line everybody up and give them all a grade for their Week 9 effort. As usual we’ll also pick a couple of teams for hall passes (good work) or detention (bad work) on offense, defense, special teams, and coaching.
The Tigers did what they do, running all over Ole Miss en route to the 40-29 win. Run for 307, pass for 247, just another day at the office. Pass defense was poor though — can’t let people pass for 465 on you!
Texas A&M: B
Not trying to downplay the Aggies, but not much they were going to do to New Mexico State to get a better grade. It was a solid thumping, but A&M has some serious opponents upcoming.
Mississippi State: C
The good news for the Bulldogs was that it was a win, and Nick Fitzgerald put up seven touchdowns. The bad news was that they allowed 627 yards and 41 points to FCS Samford. With A&M and Bama next, it’s going to be a long two weeks.
Ole Miss: D+
Since the Rebels don’t have a “D”, we thought we’d give them one. The 3-5 Rebs are the most disappointing team in the SEC, and it’s not all that close. Chad Kelly and the electric passing game are ruined by being hitched to a morbid defense, in an atmosphere that verges on putrid. The Egg Bowl likely holds the Rebels’ bowl chances — a long fall from talking about the playoff before the season.
Alabama, Arkansas, LSU: Incomplete
Three big dogs — or based on their last games played, two big dogs and a poodle masquerading as a big dog — spent the week getting ready for their stretch runs.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Kentucky football. The Wildcats ran through a decimated Mizzou defense to move to 4-2 in the SEC and all but wrap up a bowl game. Next up? Georgia and at UT. Could Kentucky win the East?
The Florida defense again proves its legitimacy, holding UGA to 164 yards. The problem is that the Florida offense is head-bangingly pedestrian: 131 passing yards and 2.1 yards per carry don’t get the heart racing. Can Florida keep up with West foes Arkansas and LSU on the road? Kentucky hopes not.
South Carolina: A-
So yeah, many here assumed Will Muschamp had lost what was left of his mind when he pulled the redshirt of teen star Jake Bentley at QB. Muschamp was crazy like a fox, and might vault USC into a bowl yet. That was a big upset over a bumbling UT squad.
Sure, Florida is talented, but UGA has top-shelf running back talent and a QB who will probably make people look back in a few years and say, “They got beat by WHO?” But the Bulldogs have no identity and are a loss at Kentucky next week from a possible losing season.
Ole Miss got a “D” because they don’t have one, UT gets a “D” for “disabled.” The Volunteers are unrecognizable as themselves, which is a shame because a month ago, it looked like they really had something. At this point, they’re 5-3, and a game and a half behind Kentucky in the East standings.
The worst team in the SEC right now, and it’s not especially close. It’s funny how a gimmicky passing game makes you look strong against the Eastern Michigans and Delaware States of the world, but crashed back to earth in the SEC. Missouri fans apparently knew what was coming yesterday, because that was some MAC level attendance.
Resting up this week.
Auburn: Considering setting up a sponsorship deal for Auburn on this: 554 yards of offense gets them back again.
Kentucky: A surprisingly tough ground attack leads the way in a day that included 582 yards of total offense.
Georgia: Jacob Eason hit one nice pass, and otherwise, the Bulldogs were lost: 162 yards and a terrible run game.
Tennessee: The defense had a lot to do with it, but a sub-300 yard day and a 3-0 turnover deficit further handicapped the already limping Vols.
South Carolina: Holding UT to 3.7 yards per carry, and forcing a 12-for-27 passing game with two picks paved the way for a decent but unexciting Carolina offense to deliver the goods. Just winning!
Florida: They dominated Georgia so completely that it was almost as if Nick Chubb wasn’t there. No really, was he there? Georgia averaged 1.1 yards per carry … and Jacob Eason was held to a QB rating of 26.8.
Mississippi State: Over 600 yards and 41 points to an FCS foe? When an FCS opponent out-Mullens Mullen, it’s not a good sign.
Missouri: Kentucky nearly set a school record for rushing yards in an SEC game (377, with the record being 409). What’s worse is they likely would have — except they were ahead 35-7 and started eating the clock. Mizzou was a sieve.
Auburn: Kicker Daniel Carlson is the most accurate kicker in the history of the SEC, and is chasing the NCAA record. He was 4-for-4 on field goals, and when your team wins by 11, you can see what that is worth.
Kentucky: On a day when much went right for the Wildcats, they missed a field goal, shanked multiple punts, and gave up a punt return to their 1-yard line. Need to clean that up, anyway.
Kentucky: Could actually win the SEC East. That was very low on a list of statements we ever expected to write.
South Carolina: Looks like a bowl team, which is almost as surprising. As an aside, no offense to Gus Malzahn, who is also a stud, but Carolina is doing amazing things with much less talent.
Ole Miss: Life in the SEC genius race. Hugh Freeze and Gus Malzahn have basically swapped job situations since the pre-season. How does Hugh like the hot seat?
Georgia: Kirby Smart isn’t going to get fired, but there are some disappointed Georgia fans today. This team should not be 4-4, and should not need a social event to introduce Nick Chubb to the offensive coordinator.