What we learned about the SEC East in Week 5
Week 5 in the SEC East saw a seismic shift atop the division as Florida puffed out its chest with a walloping of No. 3 Ole Miss.
Couple the Florida’s win with an Alabama whooping of Georgia — both games by a 38-10 score — and Florida at 5-0 (3-0 SEC) appears to be the team to beat. Kentucky, Vanderbilt and Missouri all showed their resiliency with wins, while growing pains continue to nag and sink Tennessee and South Carolina.
Here’s what we learned about each team in the SEC East after Week 5:
Week 5 Result: Defeated Ole Miss, 38-10
What we learned: The Florida Gators are a complete team. Jim McElwain had his squad ready to play No. 3 Ole Miss and they never let up on the Rebels. There’s an electricity back in Gainesville that’s been missing for quite some time. Will Grier has emerged as a leader. Adding to the redshirt freshman’s lore is the stomach flu he’s been fighting along with 23 other teammates this week. There’s still a long road ahead. The celebration could be short-lived as the month of October proves to be a tough stretch with road trips to Missouri and Death Valley before a Halloween tilt at home against Georgia.
Week 4 Result: Lost to Alabama, 38-10
What we learned: Georgia wasn’t on the same playing field as Alabama during the Week 5 contest between the hedges. A big factor was quarterback play. Jake Coker was a crisp 11 of 16 for 190 yards, threw for a touchdown and found the end zone for another score in the Tide’s win. Across the other side of the ball, the Bulldogs had a tough afternoon figuring it out. Greyson Lambert got the hook late in the second quarter after struggling. He reentered the game later after his replacement Brice Ramsey threw a pair of interceptions. Lambert finished with 86 of the team’s 106 passing yards and added a pick of his own. Quarterback play wasn’t the only thing that doomed Georgia, but Lambert found out the hard way that Alabama is not South Carolina and Southern University.
Week 5 Result: Defeated Eastern Kentucky, 34-27, in OT
What we learned: A year ago, the Wildcats lose their Week 5 matchup against Eastern Kentucky. It wasn’t pretty, and you never want to struggle against an FCS squad, but this year’s UK squad is a matured group over last season. Patrick Towles and Dorian Baker connected on the game-tying and winning touchdown passes as the Wildcats survived a 34-27 scare. They did so without their leading rusher Stanley “Boom” Williams.
Week 5 Result: Defeated South Carolina, 24-10
What we learned: Maty Mauk likely will be back under center for Missouri after missing Week 5 due to a suspension for violating team policy. Maybe. Drew Lock won his Tigers debut with an efficient afternoon in a 24-10 win over South Carolina in lieu of Mauk. Lock finished 21 of 28 for 136 yards and 2 touchdowns and was clutch when it mattered. Even if Mauk regains his starting role, Lock is getting valuable playing time to showcase his strong arm. It also appears the Gamecocks were a cure for the struggling Mizzou run game. The Tigers ran for 163 yards on the ground, led by Ish Witter with 98 yards and a touchdown.
South Carolina Gamecocks
Week 5 Result: Lost to Missouri, 24-10
What we learned: South Carolina lost the battle between the first two true freshmen to start against one another in SEC history. Lorenzo Nunez once again led the Gamecocks in rushing with 60 yards, while throwing for another 172 in the air. But the freshman looked like a freshman, at times, especially with three third-quarter interceptions. Despite the struggles and three other players on the bench who have thrown a pass this season, South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier appears to be sticking with Nunez for now to take his lumps. While that’s great for the long term in Columbia, but will make for some growing pains in 2015.
Week 5 Result: Lost to Arkansas, 24-20
What we learned: We’re finding out that Tennessee is young and green. Once the Volunteers learn how to play a complete game, they’ll start winning games. For now, the talent gets them so far, but their lack of experience is detrimental in the second halves of games — UT dropped three games it could have won. The good news for Tennessee is that their nucleus is comprised of sophomores in running backs Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara as well as defensive lineman Derek Barnett, and junior quarterback Joshua Dobbs.
Week 5 Result: Defeated Middle Tennessee State, 17-13
What we learned: Vanderbilt proved resilient in its come-from-behind win over the Blue Raiders. The problem is the Commodores seem to play up or down to their competition. And playing from behind is becoming Vandy’s thing. The Commodores have outscored opponents 41-28 in the fourth quarter this season. Conversely, Vanderbilt has only scored nine points in the first quarter all year — a product of a team that can’t establish the run early and is forced to throw later in games. Fortunately for Derek Mason’s squad, he’s got a decent passer in Johnny McCrary.