Mitchell: SEC Week 4 Review
SC QB Connor Shaw
You see but you do not observe, my dear Watson. Week Four of the SEC under the microscope...
By Russ Mitchell
Follow me @russmitchellcfb
Missouri's performance in its first SEC road game was worse than it looked - and it looked like a train wreck. The Tiger's last 75 yard touchdown drive was a layup, coming with under five minutes to play down 31-3 and the Gamecocks having emptied the bench. In the first 55 minutes, here was Missouri's stat line: 11-of-18 passing for 92 yrds, no touchdowns or interceptions...to go with 29 carries for 88 yards rushing, and a fumble.
Worse yet, and more puzzling, Mizzou ran enough in the first half to make play action legit, yet rarely employed it, & barely threw deep to challenge a weak SC secondary.
We have been impressed with Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel over the years...this was not one of his finer outings.
One last SC/Mizzou note: three of SC's four touchdown drives started in Mizzou territory. Connor Shaw looked crisp with his 20 straight pass completions, though we note at some point SC is going to have to get its receivers involved in the passing game against a conference foe.
LSU had almost twice the total yards in Auburn than the host Tigers. Its D limited Auburn to less than 100 yards passing AND rushing. LSU had the ball an extra six minutes, and had three different running backs average close to five yards per carry. And still the Bayou Bengals barely won.
Folks will want to point to the many costly and timely penalties that seemed to pop up for LSU (9-80), or the two first half fumbles that led to a 14 point swing. They'll want to point to LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger's stiff second half performance in his first SEC road game, and once again, poor time management down the stretch that cost LSU a field goal and almost the game.
But the real issue on Saturday for LSU was its offensive line, which is battered and juggling players at new positions. The good news for LSU is it has depth and talent at OL, time to get guys steady, and a defense that can cover in the interim. The bad news is there's not the experience with the backups that there was in 2011. LSU better figure this out before it faces some tougher SEC defenses.
In the UF/Kentucky game, Gators quarterback Jeff Driskel had all day and a taco in the pocket to throw, and the sophomore was either accurate or way off; there was no in between. There were at least a half dozen passes where receivers had to adjust their routes or virtually stop running to wait for his throws. Against good DBs Driskel would have had a three INT day.
Don't know what to say about Arkansas that hasn't already been said. I've been writing about this since April. Don't quit on the seniors, Hog fans.
Thought UGA would win by touchdowns, but not 6+. Impressive day for Dawgs with 302 rushing yrds. Todd Gurley is fast becoming a star: 16 carries for 130 yards, and two touchdowns. The Dawgs defense is also starting to gel with most of its starters back and healthy. Meanwhile, Vandy is going backwards. We worried if there was a ceiling for Vandy...let's just hope there's a floor.
The Ole Miss offense trucked Tulane with new head coach Hugh Freeze and quarterback Bo Wallace behind the wheel. I'm concerned about Wallace on the sideline late in the game with his throwing shoulder wrapped, particularly with Bama coming up next for the Rebs. Heard Saturday night it was just "a bruise", which in the SEC can mean anything from a bruise to a torn rotator cuff. Time will tell... Green Wave not big enough to test Rebs' weak D line.
The only thing that really mattered about the Tenn/Akron game was the first half, while Akron still had the horses to play, and the teams were tied heading into the second half. The Vols' attempts to get the running game back on track were mostly successful (46 carries for 238 yards - and a carrier day for Rajion Neal); the carries were also split pretty evenly between halves. Tyler Bray with another fine day: 401 yards and 4 touchdowns...if against Akron.
Alabama, State, and TAMU all played cream puffs.
Some random, non-SEC thoughts:
FSU quarterback E.J. Manuel saved the day for the Noles. The FSU D was OK, yet they still found themselves trailing at home in the second half. E.J.'s ~400 passing & 102 rushing (on 12 carries) kept the Noles national championship hopes alive, and finally puts the senior signal caller in rare air.
As expected, the Sooners spotty OL play was the difference in its home loss to Kansas State. 88 rushing yards won't even get it done in the pass-happy Big 12, while giving up 213 on the ground is a recipe for defeat. The Sooners' defense also could get no pressure on KSU's passing game. A big win for Snyder and the Kitties.
OSU has looked average beating four bad defenses, all in Horseshoe; Cal's D was ranked 80th heading into the weekend and two others were in the 100s. Meyer's charges are getting a lot of hype for their 4-0 start...we're hardly believers at this point.
The Oregon Ducks struggled early against RichRod's Arizona Wildcats, yet still posted a shutout/blowout, 49-0. STOP. Think about that for a second - they struggled in the first half, yet STILL posted a 49-0 win. Continue. As we've been telling you, OR's defense is stout. Have no problem with Oregon passing LSU in the polls (which they did).
West Virginia really struggled against a bad Maryland team.
Russ Mitchell is CFN's lead SEC Columnist. Follow Russ for SEC and CFB analysis @russmitchellcfb
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