1 thing I learned about every SEC team in Week 8
Only 5 weeks of the regular season are left. Don’t tell anyone. I’m going to keep living in a world where we have months and months left of the college football regular season. I’ll count down the college football season at a very low whisper.
In a week that we had 4 SEC teams on bye, not all of the things we learned were from actual games itself. Nonetheless, we still learned plenty of things from the week that was and the football we did see.
Here’s 1 thing I learned about every SEC team in Week 8:
Alabama: Tua Tagovailoa’s knee is just fine
So, um, dudes don’t make throws like this if they’re nursing significant knee injuries:
If Tua has time, he's gonna find a way to score. pic.twitter.com/233re6o4TA
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) October 20, 2018
Tua is special.
It's literally impossible to throw a football better than this. pic.twitter.com/pR6Jiwj37X
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) October 20, 2018
For all the talk all week about the knee injury that Tagovailoa left last Saturday’s game with, he certainly quieted it Saturday. The key was that was ahead of the bye week before heading to LSU. By the way, Tagovailoa will indeed attempt his first fourth-quarter pass of the season in November. Maybe.
Arkansas: Connor Noland is a better option than Cole Kelley, but …
Maybe that’s not a fair statement considering it was 1-win Tulsa. But still, Chad Morris turned to the promising true freshman with Ty Storey out after Kelley struggled late in Week 7’s loss to Ole Miss. After that interception on the first possession, Noland settled down and completed 63 percent of his passes for nearly 8 yards per attempt. Storey is still the guy if he’s healthy for the rest of 2018. As for 2019? Well, Kelly Bryant was in attendance on a visit. He might’ve been able to do a better job against that Tulsa defense.
Kelly Bryant on the sidelines for the Arkansas/Tulsa game. Here on an official visit. pic.twitter.com/iZRtqiOpuN
— Kris Budden (@KrisBudden) October 20, 2018
Auburn: How much the Tigers still care
They do. Because if they didn’t, as Kirk Herbstreit suggested could be a possibility on College GameDay, they wouldn’t have shown up on Saturday in Oxford. The Tigers did in fact make the trip. The defense was huge in limiting Ole Miss to field goals early, which gave the Tigers enough time to finally hit some big plays. Nothing will get you right like the Ole Miss defense, and finally, Auburn’s offense got right. Credit Jarrett Stidham for blocking out the noise, as well as the Tigers’ running game that had been nonexistent in SEC play. Now, at least bowl eligibility isn’t in doubt. What a sentence.
Florida: The Gators are top-10 worthy for the Georgia game
A month ago, I didn’t think there was any way that the Gators would be a top-10 squad heading into the Georgia matchup. You didn’t, either. But here we are, heading into the last weekend of October and Florida is at No. 9 in the Associated Press Top 25. Go figure that in Year 1 of the Dan Mullen era, the Gators are trying for their third win vs. a ranked team and in control of their own Playoff destiny. It’s a tough path, but it’s a whole lot better than 3 SEC wins and a post-Georgia game firing like last year.
Georgia: D’Andre Swift isn’t as healthy as I thought
With Georgia on bye, we found out that Swift was apparently not as healthy as he looked. He’s dealing with another injury, Kirby Smart announced after the LSU game. That goes against what I saw from Swift in what I thought was his best performance of the year so far. Smart did say that he expected Swift to be ready for Florida after the bye, but it makes you wonder if Swift is ever going to look like the guy who started the year as a Heisman Trophy candidate.
Kentucky: The Cats don’t care if they’re predictable
This is going to sound strange after a 14-7 victory against Vanderbilt, but I actually applaud Kentucky for deciding it didn’t care if it was predictable. How many teams can win a game with less than 20 passing yards? I mean, let’s think about that. Kentucky essentially said, “we have Benny Snell and Terry Wilson, and you won’t be able to stop them.” Wilson only attempted 9 passes against Vanderbilt, but the fact that he and Snell combined for 260 rushing yards on 44 attempts told you everything you need to know. Do what you’ve gotta do to get a win.
LSU: Targeting is the worst
Just kidding. You already knew that. We we didn’t know was that in a game that LSU was winning 19-3 in the fourth quarter and nobody got hurt, it could still suffer a devastating loss. Losing Devin White for the first half of that Alabama game is about as bad of a loss as the Tigers could have had.
THIS was called and upheld as "targeting" on LSU LB Devin White.pic.twitter.com/kzmovvepkF
— Saturday Down South (@SDS) October 21, 2018
If you want to call unsportsmanlike conduct, fine. I get it. Player safety. If you want to eject him? I guess you can do that, too, if you must. But the first-half suspension part of that rule is ridiculous. Here’s hoping a call this important — and horrendous — will prompt a rule change.
Mississippi State: The passing game can look even worse
Woof. I believe LSU has the best secondary in the country, and it played at its best on Saturday. But that was really the best the Bulldogs could do with 2 weeks to prepare. Joe Moorhead’s offense can’t be 1-dimensional against a team as good as LSU. It just can’t. Nick Fitzgerald looks like the game has sped up for him. He isn’t picking up blitzes, he’s late on open receivers and he’s just not accurate. His 4 interceptions were each more devastating than the previous one. The quarterback controversy isn’t going anywhere.
Mizzou: Drew Lock can survive without Emanuel Hall … as long as it’s against a bad defense
The Tigers’ top deep threat missed his third game in a row, but for the first time since he’s been out, the Tigers offense dominated. Lock finally got rolling and led Mizzou to a 65-point outburst. That was the good news. The bad news was that Memphis was worse than any defense on the rest of the schedule. Kentucky and Florida are coming up, though Hall is expected to be back. The Tigers need him to be at full go against defenses that good.
Ole Miss: Even Auburn can score against the Rebels
When you let up 33 points to Arkansas, there’s not much to suggest that the defense will fare will against anyone in the SEC. That includes an Auburn offense that looked like it was left for dead. You feel bad for guys like Benito Jones, who are still giving max effort for this group, but man, it’s baffling how this team still can’t tackle. Boobie Whitlow was dominant and as a result, the Rebels reminded everyone why they have a 7-win ceiling with a defense that bad.
South Carolina: Jake Bentley’s leash is getting shorter?
Gamecocks fans will get awfully anxious if South Carolina can’t put up points against Tennessee. If that happens at Williams-Brice on Saturday, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Will Muschamp bench Jake Bentley in favor of Michael Scarnecchia. Based on Muschamp’s comments this week, Bentley is by no means locked in as the starter.
Tennessee: Jeremy Pruitt isn’t sugar-coating the talent disparity
I love this quote that Pruitt delivered to his team at halftime:
“I promise you, I will recruit 25 other guys that will play the right way so we don’t have to play in another game like this.” @JamieErdahl reports on a tough lesson Jeremy Pruitt gave his team at the half. pic.twitter.com/FbhdENvysy
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) October 20, 2018
That’s the anti-Butch Jones message. That’s not putting lipstick on a pig. That’s acknowledging that there’s a standard that Tennessee is expected to live up to, and handing out fake accolades won’t fool anyone. This just furthered the “Pruitt gets it” belief that I’ve had for the past few months.
Texas A&M: An impressive stat that I didn’t realize
Sometimes I’ll realize something that I should’ve been giving more credit to much earlier. How about this stat. The Aggies have faced the likes of Alabama, Clemson and the leading SEC rusher in Benny Snell. Um, Texas A&M is ranked No. 2 in FBS against the run. In fact, no Power 5 team has allowed fewer rushing yards per contest than the Aggies. Compare that to a group that finished No. 71 against the run last year. Tip of the cap, Mike Elko.
Vanderbilt: Early leads against ranked teams don’t mean a whole lot
For the second week in a row, the Vandy offense came out ready to go and got a lead on a ranked opponent. And for the second week in a row, offense was all but impossible in the second half and a lead slipped away. The Commodores struggled to run the ball without Ke’Shawn Vaughn, and they ran out of gas trying to defend the run against Benny and the Jets. I mean, Cats. What’s the good news for Vandy? You can’t blow a lead on a ranked opponent if you don’t have any ranked opponents left on the schedule.