SEC Report Cards, Week 12: LSU, Georgia, A&M head the class
We don’t usually have weeks in the SEC where everything goes as expected. Sadly, the one surprise in Week 12 is the one that we’re all sad about. Whoever you root for, when Tua Tagovailoa went down, it was impossible to feel anything but sick. He’s a massive loss for Alabama, for the league, for the sport. Best, healing wishes for one of the best to play this game, but then down to business.
Here at SEC Report Cards, we grade every team in the league, and then give some extra attention to the league’s best and worst offenses, defenses, and special teams. Here are the Week 12 report cards.
Texas A&M: A
Great effort by the Aggies, completely disabling the South Carolina offense and producing two 100-yard rushers and 540 total yards of offense. In their 7th win, the Aggies looked like a team destined to light up somebody in a decent bowl game in a few weeks.
Favored by 22, won by 21. There was little discernible effect, particularly on offense, from the Alabama game. Defensively, the Tigers got gashed pretty thoroughly by John Rhys Plumlee and the Rebels running game (although admittedly, much of the damage came in garbage time). This could bode badly for Ohio State down the line, but for now, tighten up the defense a little and we’re good.
Had no idea what grade to give Alabama. The team was definitely on the way to an A, leading 35-7 late in the second quarter. After Tagovailoa’s injury, the Crimson Tide stumbled through the rest of the game on auto pilot. Completely understandable, and we didn’t dock them much. It’s a 31-point win, Bama can get through the next two without Tua, but the real drop here is in the minds of the CFP voters. Can the Tide get their shot down the line? Probably not.
If they had known beforehand that the Tigers would hold Georgia to 251 total yards, 3 for 15 on third downs and 21 points, Auburn fans would have felt pretty good. Ditto for gaining 329 yards and 22 first downs on offense. But it all added up to another loss where the Auburn offense couldn’t put up enough points to win.
Sure, they weren’t going to win the game, but by fighting to a 30-27 second half edge, the Rebels made the game look a lot closer than it was. John Rhys Plumlee struck for second-half touchdown runs of 35, 46, and 60 yards. Ole Miss trimmed the lead to two scores on a couple of occasions, and deserves some credit for sticking in there. On the down side, the Rebels defense was annihilated.
Mississippi State: C-
It was also hard to know what to make of the other team in the Alabama game. State was getting crushed pretty well, still couldn’t put up points, but after the Tagovailoa injury MSU ground the rest of the game out. Whatever State does on offense hasn’t worked, and the Bulldogs defense gets ground up pretty well by good teams.
Those go together like peanut butter and jelly.
This was not a beauty. The Bulldogs were outgained by 78 yards, were horrific on third down, and had a very pedestrian game offensively. Drive recap: Punt, touchdown, punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, touchdown, punt, punt, touchdown, punt, punt, punt, end of game. Their defense did a great job of bending but never breaking and Georgia won a game it had to win. That’s what people will remember.
The Wildcats are here thanks to 401 rushing yards and an day when they didn’t punt until the last two minutes of the game. Their defense also shut down an identity-less Vanderbilt team. Frankly, this would be an A, but this is a little like beating up your little brother.
A dozy, taking-care-of-business effort by the Gators. They still can’t run well, but Kyle Trask and the defense did enough to put this one safely into the win column by late in the third quarter.
The Tigers still have some fight left on defense, but an offense that was once high powered is just trying to finish the season without embarrassment. To be candid, the Tigers are lucky Arkansas is still on the schedule or this team wouldn’t get to 6 wins.
South Carolina: D-
What a strange week. Coach gets a word of apparent confidence and his team goes out and completely lays an egg. The offense was awful, the defense gave up 319 rushing yards. The Gamecocks are going to get routed by Clemson.
The Commodores had a good touchdown drive, then scooped and scored on a Kentucky fumble and held a 14-3 lead. Maybe Vanderbilt wasn’t going to just play out the string. But no, this team definitely did just play out the string. Not only did Kentucky outrush Vandy by nearly 300 yards, they outpassed the home team too. This was a “get the head coach fired” kind of loss.
Off week for the Vols.
Just the Tigers doing what they do — over 700 yards, nearly 500 passing yards, 58 points.
UK had 528 total yards and punted once all day in the team’s most lopsided SEC win in 18 years.
The Aggies had 540 total yards and good balance (221 passing yards, 319 rushing). A&M settled for field goals a little too often, but otherwise, good work.
Why not? The Aggies absolutely shut down South Carolina’s passing game, didn’t allow a run longer than 13 yards and held the Gamecocks to two field goals.
Missouri had 1.8 yards per rush and only a pair of field goals at home? Good week for the Gator D.
The numbers aren’t brilliant, but holding the Tigers to 14 points was the key to this game. A couple of stops on downs in the no-man’s-land area of the field were crucial.
If you’re going to punt 11 times, going for about a 51-yard average (and a net of over 45) is a good way to do it. Jake Camarda, nice work. We don’t only notice punters when they screw up.
This was a nice game by Evan McPherson, with three field goals, including a 47-yarder. Solid day of punting from Tommy Townsend as well.
Parker White scored Carolina’s only points, the punting was solid and the Gamecocks had a 50-yard kick return. It was about all that went right for them.
The team was 19 for 46 passing and the leading rusher had 12 yards on 7 carries. Just an ugly, ugly game for South Carolina.
The Tigers managed 256 yards, but their longest run was 11 yards and they generally stumbled around without much of a clue.
A defensive scoop and score makes the point total look a little better, but 198 total yards and getting outpassed by Kentucky tells the story.
Yes, it’s LSU. Yes, the Tigers are really, really good. But LSU had over 700 yards, scored 58 points, and didn’t punt. Hard to win a game that way defensively.
Similarly, Kentucky didn’t punt until the closing minute and change of the game. Of course, the difference between struggling to stop LSU and struggling to stop Kentucky should be fairly clear.
Texas A&M just did what it wanted. Fortunately for South Carolina, the Aggies kicked a lot of field goals. This easily could’ve been a 35- or 40-point loss.
Missing a field goal early in this game was pivotal.
We’re nit-picking but the normally reliable Seth Small missed a field goal and Braden Mann was average enough to surrender the SEC lead in punting average.
A missed 38-yard field goal on their opening possession set the tone. Three points would have prevented the Rebels from getting boat-raced quite as quickly as they did.