SEC studs and duds: Week 11
Our list of the SEC’s best and worst in Week 11:
1. Alabama pass rush: Alabama’s defense can clearly do it all. Last week the Tide shut down the nation’s leading rusher (Leonard Fournette) and this week it overwhelmed the SEC’s most multi-faceted threat at quarterback (Dak Prescott). Alabama had nine sacks in its 31-6 win over Mississippi State, the most by any Tide team since 1998, pushing its season total to 38. Individually, Jonathan Allen was the standout, finishing with seven tackles and three sacks. Alabama now ranks second in the nation in sacks, second in rushing yards allowed per game, second in rushing yards allowed per carry, and first in fewest rushing touchdowns allowed.
2. Derrick Henry: Henry wasn’t consistently dominant against Mississippi State, but he proved once again that he might be the SEC’s most potent home run threat since Darren McFadden. He scored on runs of 74 and 65 yards against the Bulldogs, taking him to 1,458 yards and 19 TDs for the year, keeping the junior squarely in the Heisman conversation.
3. Alex Collins: Collins has been overshadowed by Henry, Fournette, Nick Chubb, and at times, his own quarterback this season. Meanwhile, the junior has been consistently excellent. After rushing for 141 yards on 16 carries against LSU, he’s now topped 100 yards in eight of Arkansas’ 10 games and is ranked third all-time among the school’s rushers with more than 3,300 yards in less than three full seasons.
1. LSU in the trenches: It wasn’t just Collins beating up on the Tigers. Arkansas whipped LSU on both lines, rushing for nearly 300 yards, sacking Brandon Harris five times and holding Fournette to less than 100 rushing yards for the second straight week. Suddenly, an offensive line that was once believed to be a team strength now looks like a vulnerability, and the defensive front has given way to well over 500 yards on the ground in the past two games combined.
2. Kentucky’s passing game: For the second consecutive year, the Wildcats offense is tanking and taking with it their chances bowl eligibility. Kentucky hasn’t visited the postseason since 2010 and after Saturday’s loss to Vanderbilt, it will need to close the year with wins over Charlotte and Louisville to make it back this season. The Wildcats have lost five straight, thanks largely to a hibernating passing game that looked somewhat dangerous about a month ago. Kentucky ran for over 200 yards against the Commodores, but completed just 15 of 34 pass attempts for 127 yards and two interceptions. Quarterback Patrick Towles was benched for a significant portion of the game, and Kentucky receivers dropped numerous passes in crucial situations.
3. The continued existence of the forward pass in the Georgia-Auburn game: It’s befuddling that two teams with the history, facilities, access to talent and reputed coaching staffs of Georgia and Auburn would simultaneously endure such epic struggles at the quarterback position. Neither team’s signal-callers embarrassed themselves Saturday, but that seemed primarily due to the fact that both coaching staffs tailored the game plan to make sure that didn’t happen. The teams combined to complete 27 of 44 pass attempts, yet totaled only 159 yards. That’s an average of less than 6 yards per completion.