SEC Report Cards, Week 7: Top marks for LSU, South Carolina, UT
Week 7 was a wild one. Whether your favorite team had a great week (South Carolina, Tennessee, LSU), or a terrible one (Georgia, Mississippi State, Vandy), you probably couldn’t believe what you saw. But we’ve broken it all down here at SDS, and it’s time for our weekly report cards.
We grade each team and then reward the best and chastise the worst on offense, defense, and special teams. Ring the bell, because school’s in and report cards are out.
The Tigers took care of business with a top-10 win in which their offense put up 42 points and only made it to 3rd down on 4 occasions! The defense was a little battered, but it rose to the occasion when needed and will land the Tigers at the top of the class and probably the national polls.
The offense was sharp and precise, but the defense allowed A&M almost 400 total yards and 28 points. Probably as significant as the defensive issues were the 11 penalties called against the Crimson Tide. LSU will get the headlines this week, and the Tigers have earned them. Alabama’s offense is brilliant, but can the defense stand up against top competition?
Ole Miss: C+
The Rebels managed to blend both quarterbacks into their game plan, getting some positive moments from both Matt Corral and John Rhys Plumlee. Unfortunately, they were torched defensively, surrendering 562 yards and forcing just 1 punt.
Texas A&M: C+
The Aggies found themselves in basically the same boat as the Rebels. Their offense was pretty darn solid. Kellen Mond passed for 264 yards and rushed for 90. That said, Alabama had their way both in the air and on the ground. Not the worst week ever for the Aggies, but far from the best.
Saturday’s defeat to Kentucky was tough for the Razorbacks, who were outgained by 113 yards against a Wildcats team running an old-timey offense with a wide receiver at quarterback. After Rakeem Boyd’s 74-yard touchdown run on the second play of the game, the Razorbacks offense brought very little for the rest of the game. The defense gave up 330 yards rushing to a one-dimensional offense.
Mississippi State: D-
The Bulldogs were held to 267 total yards, outgained by 90 yards and lost the turnover battle 3-2. And that’s all why they lost the game in Knoxville. The passing game turned out one play of more than 20 yards, and that one went 21 (UT had three of 28+). The Bulldogs did not have a rush longer than 14 yards — especially astounding when MSU allowed 4 different UT players to break 15-yard runs.
Like a Bo Nix pass against Florida. (Too soon?)
South Carolina: A
So how do you beat a top 3 team that outgains you by 171 yards? Well, that plus-4 turnover margin really helped. But so did an offense that was efficient even when it wasn’t pretty. Running plays with their 3rd-team quarterback, the Gamecocks ground out enough yards to keep pressure on Georgia — and then their defense cashed that pressure in. This was a season-maker, and likely changes the entire trajectory of coach Will Muschamp’s stay at Carolina.
This was some old-timey football on Rocky Top. Yes, UT used 2 quarterbacks, but each of them threw 7 passes. Most of what UT did was hand the ball to Ty Chandler and Tim Jordan and grind out a Phil-Fulmer-versus-Jackie-Sherrill kind of 20-10 win. Credit to a physical ground attack and a UT defense that managed 7 sacks.
The good news is that the all-receiver-at-QB offense worked against Arkansas. The bad news is that it’s hard to see it faring well over the long haul. But for one night, nearly 200 yards rushing from Lynn Bowden and a bend-but-don’t-break defense got it done. I hope we can be forgiven for wondering who the backup is to the 3rd starting QB for UK in 6 games.
The offense was sharp, passing for 329 yards and rushing for 233. The defense, well, it was a little more hit and miss. Giving up 27 points and 440 yards with no sacks and only 2 tackles for loss shows the impact of life without Cale Garrett. It was good enough this week, but Mizzou will need more down the stretch run.
Yes, it was a 2-score loss. But Florida went toe-to-toe with LSU for most of Saturday night’s game, and looks like the best team in the East right now. The run defense wasn’t great against LSU, which was a surprise, but other than that, the outlook isn’t bad.
A few stats from a stunning loss: The Bulldogs had 30 first downs, 295 passing yards, 173 rushing yards … and 17 points. This is the kind of game where you could ask most Bulldogs fans about offensive execution and they’d say, “We’re in favor of it.” Georgia had the best players on the field, but spent much of the game shooting itself in the foot … and it might well cost the Dawgs their CFP shot.
As bad as Georgia was, Vandy was worse and against a much worse opponent. UNLV lost at home to Arkansas State by 26 and at Wyoming by 36. The Rebels’ other win this season was against Southern Utah. Then they beat Vandy by 24 points, ran for over 200 yards on them and outpassed the Commordores as well. Brutal, brutal loss for Vandy.
Racking up 42 points and 511 yards against Florida and only 4 3rd-down plays all night? That’ll work.
A nice running game showed more balance than we’ve sometimes seen, and the Tide continued to light up scoreboards this week at A&M.
No, the numbers aren’t amazing. But the Wildcats rushed rush for 330 yards with a wide receiver playing quarterback. Just not something you’re going to see every week in the SEC.
The Gamecocks forced four UGA turnovers and held the Bulldogs to 17 points, including a shutout in two overtimes. That’s honor roll stuff.
The Vols held State to 10 points, forced three interceptions and amassed seven QB sacks. This is what Jeremy Pruitt has been expecting.
After giving up a 74-yard run on the second play, UK allowed just 230 more yards all night. Particularly of note were the struggles of the Razorbacks passing game, which had just 122 yards and gave up three QB sacks to UK.
Another blocked punt TD, some nice returns, and a couple of successful field goals. Going to pretend we didn’t see the blocked extra point late.
Yes, the 33-yard missed field goal in overtime nearly killed some of their fans. But Parker White made the kick he had to make. Solid work from the punt team as well, as Georgia had zero return yards.
Brent Cimaglia hit a couple of crucial field goals, the punting game was solid, and UT was as solid in the kicking game as it was everywhere else.
Ten points against UNLV? This was despite 193 total offensive yards from Ke’Shawn Vaughn. The rest of the team had just 113 yards.
The Bulldogs couldn’t pass (146 yards and 3 picks on 21 attempts) or run (Kylin Hill had 11 carries for 13 yards). They also couldn’t score (10 points) or win.
Yes, the South Carolina defense was gritty and opportunistic. Georgia also turned 468 yards into just 17 points and threw a crucial pick-6 that gifted the Gamecocks the halftime lead.
The Rebels gave up 562 yards and 38 points to Missouri and forced only one punt all day. Whatever their defense did, it didn’t work.
Yes, LSU is that good. But if you can only force 3 incomplete passes and allow 9.1 yards per carry, you didn’t give your offense much of a chance.
You had a 13-0 lead against a team that “passed” for 88 yards (much of them horizontal flips) with a receiver at quarterback. And then you absolutely couldn’t stop that rushing offense — 54 carries for 330 yards for Kentucky had to be a horror movie for Razorback fans.
Those 2 missed field goals loomed pretty large in the loss.
A missed field goal and a shanked punt didn’t do much to help the Commodores’ chances.
Tucker McCann has been great and he had 4 field goals … but he also missed 2 extra points. Maybe Mizzou and Bama can have an extra point yanking challenge.