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SEC Game Roundup: Carolina And Florida Emerge, LSU And Georgia Tank, Injuries Mount, Hogs Win One

Here’s your weekly breakdown of all the SEC action from the previous weekend.  We provide one key stat as well our own MrSEC.com takeaways from each contest.

All in one great big ol’ post.

Enjoy…

 

Arkansas 24, Auburn 7 in Auburn

Key Stat:  5 turnovers.  That’s how many times the Tigers coughed up the football to Arkansas, the nation’s absolute worst team in turnover margin entering the game.  True to form, the Razorbacks had two more giveaways of their own, but when you’re plus-three in the turnover battle, history shows you typically have a 90% chance of winning an SEC contest.

Quick Takes:

*  Kudos to Arkansas for fighting in this one.  The team had looked like it had flat-out quit a week earlier in a 58-10 bombing at the hands of Texas A&M.  On Saturday, Tyler Wilson was efficient (20-of-27 passing for 242 yards, no TDs or picks) and the run game was solid (130 yards on the ground).  After all the bad breaks, bad performances, and bad vibes that have enveloped the Hogs over the past few months, winning an SEC road game by 17 was big.  Very big.  As in “maybe this team can save its season and still reach a bowl game” big.  No one expected on Saturday to be thinking anything of that sort come Monday… except maybe for the guys in the Arkansas’ locker room.

*  Woe is Gene Chizik.  The Tigers weren’t expected to win the West Division this year but they sure weren’t expected to find themselves 0-3 in last place, either.  QB Clint Moseley — back from a sore shoulder — finally saw some game action, but his passing was really no better than Kiehl Frazier’s (who he replaced in the second half).  By the numbers, Frazier was benched after one of his better performances in fact.  (Frasier: 9-of-14 for 118 yards, no touchdowns, one interception and an 8.4 yards-per-pass average vs Moseley: 13-of-21 for 163 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions and a 7.8 yards-per-pass average.)  In addition to everything else that’s gone wrong for Auburn, the Tigers now have a full-on quarterback controversy at the midway part of the season.

*  So was Arkansas’ defense better or is Auburn really just that bad on offense?  The Razorbacks had been abysmal — they’re still worst in the SEC in total defense and scoring defense even after Saturday’s game — but they recovered two fumbles, picked off three passes and sacked the quarterback a staggering eight times against Auburn.  The Hogs’ pass rush jumped from near the bottom of the league to about the midpoint of the league with their eight-sack day.  So was UA better or AU just as bad as usual?  Probably a little bit of both.  If the Tigers were going to take a step forward, last Saturday — at home! — was the time to take it.  Losing 68 yards to sacks was definitely not a step forward.  Neither was putting up just seven points against a defense that’s still allowing 35 per game.

 

Mississippi State 27, Kentucky 14 in Lexington

Key Stat:  6 passes.  That’s how many passes freshman QB Patrick Towles threw before spraining his ankle.  (He was 5-of-6 for 71 yards, a touchdown, and some hope.)  For UK, Towles’ situation just underscores an ongoing problem — attrition.  The Cats were young to begin with — 10 freshmen and sophomores starting on offense/defense — but now they’ve had to play 22 freshmen on the season.  Two more starting safeties also went down on Saturday.  Some Kentucky fans who want Phillips ousted won’t want to hear this… but the more injuries continue to mount, the more likely AD Mitch Barnhart is going to give him just one more year to prove himself.

Quick Takes:

*  Mississippi State is 5-0 for the first time since 1999.  They’re 2-0 in the SEC and ranked in the Top 20 (#18 in one poll, #19 in the other).  But questions linger due to their schedule.  Jackson State is a 2-4 FCS team.  Auburn is 1-4.  Troy is 3-2.  South Alabama is 1-4.  Kentucky is 1-5.  Add it up and State’s wins have come over teams with a combined mark of 8-19.  The best team the Bulldogs have played is Troy — sorry Auburn fans — and the Trojans put up 572 yards on them in a too-close-for-comfort 30-24 loss.  MSU has Tennessee at home this week followed by MTSU.  The Volunteers will be a bit more of a challenge for State, but it’s possible we won’t really know how good Dan Mullen’s team is until they travel to Alabama at the end of the month.

*  I don’t want to pour too much cold water on the Bulldogs, mind you.  They continue to do what they have to do to win games, regardless of their opponents.  If you schedule tomato cans, you’re supposed to beat them.  Mullen’s team has.  And despite losing the turnover battle for the first time all year (the Bulldogs coughed it up twice and forced none), State is still tied with Alabama atop the SEC with 15 turnovers forced on the season.

*  State rushed for 158 yards against the Cats — normally that’d be a seen as a positive — but that was actually the least amount of rushing yards surrendered by UK this season.  All six Kentucky opponents have run the ball for more than 150 yards, including Kent State and Western Kentucky.  While State could be poised for a special year, the Cats are staring down the barrel of a really, really bad one.  Thanks in part to injuries across the board and a run defense that’s not done its job from Week One to now.

 

Florida 14, LSU 6 in Gainesville

Key Stat:  0 points.  Trailing 6-0 at halftime, Will Muschamp once again got the most out of his team in the second half.  Wasn’t it just last year that Gator fans were questioning his ability to make adjustments?  Against LSU, Florida outscored the Tigers 14 to zip in the second stanza.  Through five games this year, the Gators have allowed just 13 points combined to their foes.  Muschamp said he wanted a better conditioned team in 2012.  From the looks of things… he’s got just that.

Quick Takes:

*  Granted, LSU’s defense softened in the second half when LBs Kwon Alexander and Kevin Minter were hurt, but Florida’s ground game was still darned impressive.  All told the Gators rushed 58 times for 176 yards and attempted just 12 passes on the day.  Just as offensive coordinator Brent Pease had suggested leading up to Saturday’s contest, RB Mike Gillislee did indeed pile up the carries against a stout LSU D-line.  Gillislee had to get some pro scouts’ attention with his 34-carry, 146-yard, two-touchdown performance.  And while QB Jeff Driskel finished with 13 carries for just one yard due to sack yardage, he did reel off a couple of Tebow-esque third-down rushes to lead his team.

*  While Minter returned to the LSU defense, Alexander is likely done for the year with what’s being presented as a broken ankle.  Add his name to a lengthy list of Tigers who’ve been hurt, dismissed or suspended this season.  As deep as LSU is, at some point, attrition takes its toll even on a very good team.  That point appeared to come during the second half in Gainesville on Saturday.

*  Florida’s pass defense is pretty solid as proven by opposing quarterbacks’ 88.4 passer rating against them (#2 in the SEC to Alabama).  Still, Tiger QB Zach Mettenberger hasn’t lived up to expectations.  Perhaps fan expectations for a first-year starter coming in from the juco ranks — always a risky bet — were too high, but 11-of-25 for 158 yards, no TDs and an INT just isn’t going to cut it against quality foes.  The loss can’t be put solely on Mettenberger, however, as the Tigers lack the receiving weapons they have had in recent years.  WR Odell Beckham is the only LSU receiver to rank in the SEC’s Top 30 in terms of receiving yards per game.

 

Vanderbilt 19, Missouri 15 in Columbia (West)

Key Stat:  395 to 295 yards.  Missouri gained 100 more yards on the game than Vanderbilt.  The Tiger outrushed the Commodores 150 to 89.  They outgained them through the air 245 to 206.  But bad special teams play (one missed extra point and one fumbled punt giving Vandy a safety) and more injuries conspired against Mizzou as Gary Pinkel’s team fell to 0-3 SEC play.  And yes, someone’s already launched FirePinkel.com.

Quick Takes:

*  Missouri’s offensive line has a been a hodge-podge mess from preseason camp on and team suffered more injuries on Saturday.  Worse, QB James Franklin sprained an MCL in his knee — he’ll miss next week’s game against #1 Alabama — and backup Corbin Berkstresser struggled to complete passes in his absence.  Berkstresser — who didn’t have suspended WR Dorial Green-Beckham to look for — completed just 9-of-30 attempts on the night.  Forget the 189 yards passing… when your passing game has twice as many incompletions as completions, you’re going to lose.

*  On the flipside, Vanderbilt QB Jordan Rodgers wasn’t great, but he was at least efficient.  Aside from one interception he was 14-of-24 for 182 yards.  Considering the lack of help he got from Vandy’s run game — 43 carries for just 89 yards — Rodgers’ numbers were pretty good.

*  This might have been a season-altering game for both squads.  Mizzou lost more bodies and will now face Alabama, Kentucky and a road trip to Florida in the next three weeks.  It’s likely the Tigers will come out of that stretch at 4-5 (though the who knows what will happen when the Missouri’s walking wounded face Kentucky’s hobbled team).  Missing out on a bowl game is now a real possibility.  For Vandy, the Commodores now host a struggling Auburn squad and UMass before traveling to Kentucky and Ole Miss.  If VU could take three out of those four — tough, but possible — coach James Franklin’s squad could be sitting at 5-4 with bowl game on the line when they close out the year against Tennessee and Wake Forest.  This was a big swing game and Vandy got the positive bounce from it.

 

Texas A&M 30, Ole Miss 27 in Oxford

Key Stat:  13 points in 4:38.  Johnny Football wasn’t Johnny Football until late in the fourth quarter on Saturday, but QB Johnny Manziel’s late-game heroics and a controversial decision by Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze — more on that in a minute — were enough for the Aggies to grab a win in Oxford.  On the night, Manziel was a human 17-0f-26 for 191 yards, a touchdown and two picks through the air.  He also added 129 yards on 20 carries rushing the ball with a touchdown.  Not bad.  But on A&M’s last two drives — trailing 27-17 — Manziel was 3-of-3 for 64 yards and a touchdown passing and he ran for his 29-yard score.  At crunch time, Manziel entered a phone booth, put on his cape and tights, and once again saved the day for A&M.

Quick Takes:

*  After Manziel’s touchdown run cut Ole Miss’ lead to 27-23 with 6:24 to play, the Rebels took over at their own 16-yard line.  RB Jeff Scott — who ran for 108 yards on 21 carries with a touchdown — was called on to eat the clock.  On consecutive plays he rushed for five, nine (first down), six, two and one yard to the Rebel 39-yard line.  Facing 4th-and-1 with with little more than three minutes to play, Freeze decided to try and win the game then and there rather than punt the ball back to the Aggies and Manziel.  His decision backfired.  Scott was stuffed, A&M took over, and the Aggies took just four plays to find the end zone and take a 30-27 lead.  Freeze’s decision was gutsy and having gained more than 400 yards against TAMU’s defense, he obviously felt his squad could gain a single measly yard.  The fact that they couldn’t and that Ole Miss’ SEC losing streak was extended to 16 games — it dates back to 2010 — only made his decision look worse in hindsight.

*  Make no mistake, A&M escaped on Saturday.  Not only did the Aggies allow 464 yards on the night — 305 through the air — but they turned the ball over six times.  We’ve broken down the SEC’s turnover stats for you before and you can find a link to those stats above, too.  To lose the turnover margin by four (six giveaways against two takeaways) and still win an SEC game is extremely rare.  The 12th man should have breathed a sigh of relief Saturday night.

*  Another thing was made clear in Oxford — Freeze’s team has more fight in it than anyone would have expected prior to the season.  QB Bo Wallace was 20-of-34 passing for 305 yards a touchdown and two interceptions.  The Rebels added 159 yards via the ground game.  And even after Freeze’s failed fourth-down try and A&M quick score, UM didn’t deflate.  Wallace quickly completed two passes to move the Rebs from their own 28 to the Aggies’ 32.  Only then did TAMU intercept a Wallace pass and kneel twice to kill the clock.  Ole Miss is 3-3 on the season but they don’t go down easy.  In the next two weeks they’ll face Auburn and Arkansas (on the road) and they could be sitting at 5-3 needing just one win against Georgia, Vanderbilt, LSU or Mississippi State in November to reach a bowl game.  Prior to the season, no one expected Ole Miss to even be dreaming of a bowl game.

 

South Carolina 35, Georgia 7 in Columbia (East)

Key Stat:  0 points.  That’s what South Carolina allowed Georgia for the first 58 minutes and five seconds of Saturday’s night’s 35-7 Gamecock win.  To put that in perspective, UGA came into the game averaging 48 points per game through its first five contests.  DE Jadeveon Clowney and Carolina’s defense pounded, hounded, and harassed the Silver Britches.  Lorenzo Ward’s unit looked like the Alabama and LSU defenses of 2011.  Which is about the highest compliment you can dole out.

Quick Takes:

*  To put things in even greater perspective with regards to USC’s defense, Georgia rushed the ball for 75 yards on its final drive of the night (which accounted for the Dawgs’ long score).  Before that late-fourth-quarter drive, UGA had amassed all of 40 yards on the ground against the Gamecocks.  Keep in mind, even after their 115 yard performance against Carolina — aided by those 75 yards of scrub yardage — the Bulldogs still lead the SEC in rushing at 226 yards per game.  It was an eye-opening performance by Steve Spurrier’s team.  There can be no doubt… the Cocks are national championship contenders.

*  Georgia QB Aaron Murray is a passer who can sometimes run.  South Carolina QB Connor Shaw is a runner who can sometimes pass.  On Saturday, Shaw outplayed Murray, but too much blame is being heaped on the UGA quarterback.  His 11-0f-31 passing performance for 109 yards, not TDs and a pick was greatly influenced by USC’s ferocious pass rush and his own team’s lack of a running game.  Shaw, on the other hand, faced a defense that simply doesn’t play up to the level of its individual parts.  Carolina’s quarterback was just 6-of-10 on the night through the air, but outgained Murray by 53 passing yards.  He also threw two touchdowns without an interception and ran 14 times for 78 yards and an additional score.  It’s easier to quarterback against a shoddy defense than it is a hellacious one.  Interestingly, one the second play of the game, Shaw dropped back and launched a pass 42 yards downfield to WR Damiere Byrd.  If Georgia S Bacarri Rambo had snagged the ball away from Byrd — and the two both had a good shot at it — how different might Saturday’s game have turned out?  We’ll never know.  Instead, Shaw improved to 13-1 as Carolina’s starter.  Murray — with little help from his friends — fell to 2-8 all-time versus ranked teams.

*  You can start warming up Mark Richt’s seat again, folks.  Georgia’s coach won 10 games last year and the SEC’s East Division to cool things a bit in Athens, but for those who feel he can’t win “the big one,” well, he lost another big one on Saturday.  Badly.  Spurrier’s team was vastly superior and that gave the Ol’ Ball Coach a chance to do a little postgame gigging: “When you play a team like Georgia, of course they didn’t move it very far when they were out there, but you like to limit their number of plays if you can by staying on the field.”  Little jabs like that delivered by an old Georgia nemesis will only rile up angry Bulldog fans even more.  The season’s young, but Richt had better hope the heat of this seat isn’t somehow influenced by the mood on messageboards.

 


3 comments
mb6783
mb6783

I have been arguing with a UGA fan that is blaming the whole loss on Aaron Murray about the SC pass rush. He said it didn't effect UGA and Murray just missed all his throws. He said murray was only hurried 5 times. Do you know where I can find the Hurries and Knockdown stats? I know SC hit murray constantly? 

Ag_Ord
Ag_Ord

Did anyone notice that for the first time this season A&M did not use hurry up offense? Was this the result of comments made regarding this type of offense by a particular coach in the SEC last week? 

Joeagent
Joeagent

@Ag_Ord I highly doubt that had anything to do with it. I thought it was an attempt to allow the Aggie D a chance to rest.



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