SEC Report Cards, Week 3: Hello there, Florida
Undefeated SEC teams, take a step forward. Not so fast, Mississippi State and Kentucky. Winless SEC teams? Good news, UT (take it where you get it).
Here at SDS, we do what we do every week — grade the teams of the SEC, and single out the best (Honor Roll) and worst (Detention). With apologies to Alice Cooper, school is never out for us once SEC football starts.
Texas A&M: A-
The Aggies put on a thumping, complete with the impressive starting performance of freshman running back Isaiah Spiller and 410 yards passing. With the exception of one 44-yard rush, the A&M defense pretty much stonewalled Lamar. But it was Lamar.
The Tigers put together a solid complete game — rushing for 467 yards, doing a decent job on defense, and not forcing too much on Bo Nix. The level of competition is questionable, but the solid game played isn’t.
Yes, Tua Tagovailoa (and Mac Jones) threw for 495 yards and put up 47 points on the road in the SEC. B is also for better, which the defense needs to be. South Carolina threw for 324 yards, outrushed Bama 4.7 yards per carry to 3.0, and generally showed this Bama defense isn’t yet where it needs to be.
The Razorbacks got a solid win and had a nice day offensively. Defensively, well, they were gashed some on the ground and in the air, and the score was tied with nine minutes to play. It worked against Colorado State but that type of play won’t work many times this year.
The second half, with a 41-0 margin, would get an A-. The first half was about a C-, as LSU was gashed by the Northwestern State passing game a few times and generally played a sloppy, disinterested half of football. The Tigers’ 3.5 rushing yards per carry for the game isn’t prime work, either.
Ole Miss: B-
The Rebels won, but they also gave up 309 passing yards to a mediocre FCS team in a game that had a one-score margin until the last 39 seconds. The Ole Miss offense was sharp and the defense forced four turnovers, but getting gashed by QB Chason Virgil doesn’t bode well in the league of Tua and Burrow.
Mississippi State: C-
Defensively, the Bulldogs held Kansas State to 269 yards and forced three turnovers. Offensively, they gave away three turnovers and couldn’t pass the ball with any consistency. For an offensive guru, Joe Moorhead’s bunch laid an egg with the football.
This was certainly an impressive comeback for the Gators, who looked sharper with Kyle Trask than with poor Feleipe Franks. The defense was gutty and gritty, the passing game came to life, and the Gators’ will to win was impressive. Not as impressive was Florida’s running game, which before a last-minute end around had totaled fewer than 60 yards rushing. Getting outrushed in the SEC and winning isn’t easy.
To be brilliant against bad competition was UGA’s lot this week. The offensive balance was impressive, as was a shutout defensively. We feel like this student can (and will) do more.
Similarly, good work by Missouri racking up 501 yards of offense (259 rushing, 242 passing) and holding Southeast Missouri to 94 total yards and 2 for 18 on third down. But it was an FCS team, and not a great one at that. Other than the competition gap, it was a great week.
Yes, it was a win, and give the Vols credit for jumping out to a three-score edge in the first seven minutes. That said, a 360-227 yardage advantage over Chattanooga isn’t as dominating as the score suggests. For one glorious game, the Vols were the better team. But the next month won’t present that chance again.
South Carolina: B
The offense gets an A- or a B+. The defense, well, doesn’t. Tua is that good, but he certainly made it look easy. On the upside, South Carolina’s defense held Bama to 3.0 yards per carry. On the downside, the Crimson Tide didn’t need to run the ball.
If we graded Kentucky’s first three quarters, it’s an A. They got an 11-point lead on the No. 9 team in the nation and looked wily and resourceful. But the fourth quarter was an F. Four turnovers for the game were too many, the pass defense went a little too soft, and when this game was up for grabs, Kentucky didn’t grab it.
When the second half conversation is whether Tua will set a school single-game passing yardage record (he missed by 40 yards), it gives an indication of how potent this offense is.
Nick Starkel had a 300-yard passing game and the running attack gained 6.1 yards per carry. If Arkansas does that every week, it will be fine.
Lots of worthy teams (Auburn, Georgia, etc), but we’re still suckers for seeing LSU pass for 488 yards. Joe Burrow had 373 passing yards and only three incompletions.
The Gators forced four turnovers, two of which ended up deep in UK territory. Despite allowing 407 total yards, UF made the plays that had to be made and got a big comeback win on the road.
Sure, it’s an FCS team, but a shutout and fewer than 100 yards allowed is worth a mention anytime it happens.
Sure, it’s a Sun Belt team, but it’s a shutout and extra points to a fearsome pass rush that generated four sacks.
A punt return score, three field goals of 40 yards or longer (including a 52 yarder) and a 55-yard punting average makes for a good week.
A blocked punt touchdown, a nice kick return from Ty Chandler, and a solid kicking day helped the Vols.
A kick return score and a solid kicking day gets the Rebs some love.
Despite Kylin Hill (111 yards rushing), State struggled to put up points and benched Tommy Stevens. An ugly offensive week is highlighted by 11 for 27 passing for 151 yards and two picks.
(Everybody else in the SEC either played well on offense or won easily, so we’re going to be oddly specific here.)
Florida’s running game
The Gators rushed Lamical Perine like he was stuck in mud. The Florida offensive line was solid in pass protection, but didn’t open many holes on the ground.
Alabama’s running game
Yes, the Crimson Tide scored 47 points, but they were oddly inefficient running the ball. It didn’t matter this week, but it might some time.
Alabama is tough. But when your offense throws the ball all over the field and you outrushed them … well, you need a better defensive day than this: Touchdown, punt, touchdown, field goal, touchdown, missed field goal, touchdown, field goal, touchdown, touchdown.
Can we pick on both teams? The Tide allowed 459 total yards and were outrushed 135-76. South Carolina had 4.7 yards per carry and Gamecocks quarterback Ryan Hilinski hit plenty of plays in his second career start. Bama has to be better.
After they allowed 309 passing yards and 29 points to an FCS team, it makes us think the Rebels will be looking at some 60-59 types of games in SEC play.
Kansas State’s kick return touchdown tied the score in the fourth quarter and was a backbreaker.
A shanked 35-yard field goal, when a good kick would have seen the Wildcats take the lead in the final minute, was similarly a backbreaker.
Missed extra point, missed field goal, a 14-yard punt. The Tide showed shades of last year’s special teams debacles.