The SEC Bachstory will be a weekly SEC recap posted every Monday morning breaking down all the big events from the previous weekend. In order to eliminate all confusion, the Bach in Bachstory is pronounced like back (Back to the Future, The Empire Strikes Back, Back in Black), you get the picture. This week we take a look at Georgia's outlook, the two team race for the East and Arkansas' return to the big stage.
The Weekend That Was
Great game in Athens this weekend and with his first SEC road win, Ryan Mallett has served notice that Arkansas is a team that will be a player in the SEC race this season. Mallet was masterful for the second straight year against Georgia and even though the offense got comfortable in the fourth and allowed Georgia the opportunity to get back in the game…the offense made plays when the game was on the line. But there is one reason Arkansas won this game that no one is talking about…the receivers didn't drop passes.
Time after time last season the Razorback receivers would have balls hit them in the chest or hands only to have the ball fall to the ground. That didn't happen this week. They caught everything that was catchable (some of those Mallett fireballs cannot be caught by anyone not holding a net). The two worries for Arkansas was improvement on defense and receivers that can be consistent. Both of those worries were put to rest this weekend. The game against Alabama is set up beautifully for Arkansas to make a major jump in the polls if they can upset Alabama and their chances to do that look a lot better than they did on Friday last week.
The Weekend That Wasn't
The fourth quarter of the Arkansas/Georgia game was one of the more entertaining 15 minutes of football I have seen in a while. It was great to see Georgia fight back and bring momentum back to their side, it just shows you how great a motivator Mark Richt is, but defensive problems don't get fixed in 3 games after years of deficiencies. The tough pill for UGA fans to swallow is how they lost the game, the exact same way they seem to have lost nearly every game during the Willie Martinez years…giving up big plays in the secondary. That last drive was brutal. It will be very interesting to see how they bounce back next week at Mississippi State with such a difficult loss.
But even in defeat there were a lot of positives, the receivers made some plays minus AJ Green, no one can question Aaron Murray's arm strength and they didn't quit. Mark Richt's ability to rally the troops was all you need to know if you think the man is on the hot seat… he isn't. This team is young and going through a lot of change right now. They were overrated severely by some preseason but that doesn't mean that 1-2 is a failure right now. This team is still more than capable of winning 9 games this season and it starts on the road in Starkville.
The Weekend That…What the Heck
After losing ten straight SEC games, Vanderbilt walked into Ole Miss an underdog and walked about with a .500 record in the SEC. Obviously this is the first and best win in Robbie Caldwell's coaching career, but it is the biggest win the program has had since 2008. Eddie Caldwell was my SEC Defensive Player of the Week with the great pick six on Jeremiah Masoli and the rest of the defense stood strong while Ole Miss tried to make a comeback. It was a typical Vanderbilt win…no turnovers, not a lot of offense but good defense and they look advantage of the turnovers they forced. The team still is not generating enough offense in the passing game to be a threat on a weekly basis, but it they can continue to play mistake free football, Ole Miss will not be the only team Vanderbilt upsets this season.
The Weekend That Will Be
Two games highlight the schedule this week with Alabama getting its first big test of the season traveling to Arkansas and South Carolina plays their first road game of the year at Auburn. The Alabama/Arkansas game is one that was made even bigger by a huge road win for the Razorbacks over Georgia and the excitement for the game was huge before Ryan Mallett led his offense on a game winning drive in 40 seconds. The Tide has a young secondary with elite defensive coaching but the Razorbacks have the best group of receivers in the country and a Heisman Caliber QB. CBS absolutely picked the right game to broadcast this week.
The South Carolina/Auburn game is an intriguing one as well because it will be the Gamecocks first road test and Auburn hasn't looked consistent at any point this year. Some other big games to highlight would be Georgia playing at MSU in the battle of two 1-2 teams desperate for an SEC win, West Virginia playing at LSU, Kentucky at Florida and a huge game for Ole Miss against Fresno State. Fresno has already had a bye week to prepare for an Ole Miss team in freefall; can the Rebels pick it up and avoid a 1-3 start?
Big Man on Campus (BMOC)
Robbie Caldwell, Vanderbilt Head Coach
Sure this column may be a little more Vandy-centric than usual, but when team deserves recognition…they get it here. Win number one must have been pretty sweet for Coach Caldwell, a SEC road win is never anything to scoff at and after two good efforts against Northwestern and LSU that both resulted in losses…the Dores stepped up and won in Oxford. If you haven't heard any of Caldwell's interviews, do yourself and start paying attention because the guy is classic. I hope he stays at Vanderbilt for years to come because his personality is great and he is good for the SEC. Great first win coach…
Player Now Doing Charlie Work (PNDCW)
As a note to those who do not know what "Charlie-Work" is, do yourself a favor and start watching It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (the episode called "Dennis and Dee go on Welfare" explains it perfectly).
Jeremiah Masoli, Ole Miss QB
Now entrenched as the Ole Miss starting QB, this loss really has to go on his shoulders. His rushing stats were very good, but throwing the ball he had two interceptions and zero touchdowns unless you can't the pick six he three to Vanderbilt's Eddie Foster. It is apparent that while Masoli is very talented, the rest of the Ole Miss offense is not and he has been unable to elevate his teammates play with his skills. 1-2 is not where anyone expected Ole Miss to be after three games and it doesn't look to get better with the meat of the SEC schedule around the corner.
4 Downs with the SEC
First Down – SEC East Championship Game
Earlier this year I felt that Florida was a walk away favorite in the East, after three uninspired weeks of football they have company. Florida and South Carolina are on a collision course for the East Division Championship in Gainesville later this year and it is great to have that game matter once again. Sure every SEC game matters, but these two have not played a game with some intensity behind it since Spurrier's second year at South Carolina. The first season Spurrier upset his former team in Columbia in a great game, the second year a blocked FG stopped the Gamecocks chances in the HBC's first trip back to Gainesville and since then it has been all Florida.
South Carolina may be a different team this year now that they have a running game, but Florida is absolutely not the same under John Brantley. It has hard to expect a lot from a first time starter, heck Aaron Murray is 1-2 so there is no reason to scoff at the Gators 3-0 record but the Florida offense is obviously not the same. It took a trick play on special teams to break open the Tennessee game last weekend. The first two games against Miami (OH) and South Florida were uninspired messes and even in a 14 pt victory of Tennessee there are questions. South Carolina has beaten a Georgia team we are still unsure about at home but there big test comes this weekend at Auburn.
Both Florida and South Carolina should enter the game in November with at least one or two losses a piece and there is no question that the winner of that game will be playing in Atlanta. At this point it is impossible to say which one is more likely to be in the SECCG, it looks like a toss-up after three weeks.
Second Down – LSU Offense not good enough for West
LSU this year is starting to remind me a lot of some of Tommy Tuberville's Auburn teams, great defense but the offense is going to hold them back from attaining their goals. In the SEC teams win with defense, there is no question about that, but they also have to be able to have some consistency with their offense and right now LSU's offense is a mess. Consider this writer officially concerned about Jordan Jefferson's ability to take LSU to the next level. Another game with under 100 yards passing and 264 total yards of offense against MSU.
Les Miles is an awful position with his quarterbacks right now, he wants Jordan Jefferson to step up and Jarrett Lee is not the long term answer. The West Virginia game is huge but even with another poor offensive game; the defense is good enough to win. After that the real schedule fires up with Tennessee, Florida, Auburn and Alabama. The current offense is good enough to beat Tennessee but I don't think it can win the other three. This week is a chance for Jefferson to wake up against a quality opponent; LSU needs him to do so quickly.
Third Down – Gutsy win for Auburn
Say what you want about the inconsistency of Auburn so far this year (all of it is fair) but that was a very gutsy win over Clemson. With an entire offseason and two weeks to prepare for Auburn, Clemson came out energized and relished the underdog role. It was the worst half of football Auburn has played since maybe the LSU game last year and it was close to Tony Franklin-esque. All of the fears regarding Cam Newton were shown in the first half, he has inaccurate and stared down receivers, but the second half was all the positives.
I am not sure if Auburn will beat South Carolina this weekend, at the moment I am leaning towards them not doing it, but Auburn learned a lot about themselves against Clemson. Coming from behind and not giving up when everything was going wrong says a lot about the coaches and a lot about the leaders on that team. Close games come down to a play or two, this game was a missed Field Goal but Auburn put themselves in a position to win the game on the missed kick.
Fourth Down – Sad Note on Kenny McKinley
News broke last night that former South Carolina wide receiver Kenny McKinley was found dead from an apparent self inflicted gunshot wound. McKinley was loved by teammates, fans and coaches of the South Carolina program and all of them are devastated today. Number 11 was nightmare on the field for opponents, but a pleasure for all that knew him off of it. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all involved in Kenny's life, especially his family and friends.
What were your thoughts on the past weekend in the SEC? E-mail
me Brian Harbach
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