Mitchell: SEC fans should be discussing...

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Oct 18, 2012


SEC fans are some of the most educated college football advocates around, but like everyone they tend to focus on the big picture. Ten things every SEC fan should be talking about in week eight, but isn’t?


By Russ Mitchell
Follow me @russmitchellcfb

Well that leaves out anything to do with AJ McCarron’s health (mercifully), how far Gators’ quarterback Jeff Driskel can run, or whether to take the over/under on how many new SEC coaches we’ll see in Hoover next year for SEC Media Days (3.5)…

(i) To truly gauge a team/player’s performance in a single game and/or season, it’s often necessary to look more closely at the end-of-game situations. Teams can rack up yards or points – particularly passing yards – against opponents that are simply playing a soft, prevent defense, with more effort placed on running off clock. Such was the case in the final minutes of the SC/LSU game Saturday, with LSU up by two possessions. After sputtering for much of the game, Carolina drove the length of the field inside the last five minutes, as the Tigers moved into a soft, prevent defense until it reached its own 20. If we factor for those “gimme” yards (including the final three desperation plays and Hail Mary interception with 0:38 left and no timeouts deep on their own side of the field), an already anemic Gamecocks’ offense had an even worse showing: 137 total yards, a frightening time of possession margin, and Connor Shaw’s line an unimpressive 10/22 for 96 yards, one touchdown and one interception…

(ii) Shaw has now played two defenses in the top 40 (Vanderbilt’s 38 and LSU’s 2), and looked pedestrian in both outings. Up next: the Florida Gators’ defense, ranked 13 in the nation…

(iii) With more than half the season in the books, there are currently four teams in the SEC that have yet to win a conference game: Kentucky, Mizzou, Tennessee and Auburn. It’s only possible to have two winless teams in conference play – one for each division. When was the last time the SEC had two teams 0-8 in conference? 2002. Vanderbilt and Mississippi State both marched to winless records in conference play, surrendering 535 points while only scoring 244. Auburn’s best chance for a win is this weekend on the road vs. Vanderbilt…and the Tigers are a nine point underdog…

(iv) He has a long way to go to reach comparable levels of consistency and longevity, but on sheer entertainment value alone, TAMU’s freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel reminds me a lot of Virginia Tech’s Michael Vick. Johnny Football’s stat line after six games: 128/190 for 1,680 yards with 14 touchdowns to only three interceptions. PLUS 676 yards and ten touchdowns on just 91 carries (7.4 ypc)…and it’s nearly 100 yards better if you don’t factor for sacks…

(v) Of course, after Florida (20-17 loss at home), the next best defense the Aggies have faced this season has been Ole Miss at 41 in the nation, a game they trailed by 10 in the fourth quarter. After that it’s South Carolina State. Not the Gamecocks…South Carolina State, of the Mid-Eastern conference. SMU’s total defense is tied for 73, Arkansas’ is 92 and Louisiana Tech might have a great offense, but Sonny Dykes’ defense is a nearly dead last 119 in the nation. The Aggies defense has also surrendered 84 points and a stunning 1,079 yards in the past two games against the Rebels and Bulldogs…

(vi) Auburn is dead last in the conference in sacks allowed, turnover margin, passing efficiency offense, scoring offense and total offense. Can we just say they’re bad at offense? Checking in also with only one win (though having dealt with considerably more key injuries), Kentucky is only dead last in four categories, nearly all of them on defense (obviously, as Auburn has most of the ones for offense)…

(vii) The kickoff in Kyle Field for that LSU/TAMU game is 11 AM local time. Not sure if LSU fans know how to wake up before noon on a Saturday. (We also note that TAMU is ranked best in the nation in net punting, while by his standards, LSU’s usually gifted punter Brad Wing has stumbled a bit in big games this season – store that little nugget away…)

(viii) We’re not sure how much of this is Les Miles just being the Mad Hatter, but he has AWOL offensive tackle Alex Hurst listed at RT on his tentative starting roster for Saturday. Hurst disappeared from practice last week and missed the Tigers’ key game against SC…

(ix) In our weekly installment of “Introducing the World of CFB Outside the SEC”: Colorado is still playing football! No, not Colorado State, Alabama fans (which counts ex-Bama OC Jim McElwain as its new head coach), but rather the Buffalos of Bolder. Home of Ralphie the Buffalo, a bona fide American bison (Bison bison) whom a group of otherwise sane student-athletes run onto Folsom Field for each home game. Ralphie rarely travels to away games (shocker), although the last time she hit the trail was 2006 to graze between the hedges in Athens. Ralphie’s actually a she, by the way, and Folsom Field is not named after the California prison of Johnny Cash fame…although some long-suffering Buffs fans might feel that way…

(x) The SEC currently has three teams ranked in the top 25 in total offense, and once again it’s TAMU (6), UGA (20) and Tennessee (22), and five teams ranked in the top 25 in total defense (Bama 1, LSU 2, SC 12, Florida 13 and State 25). There’s virtually no change between this and last week…

Russ Mitchell is CFN's lead SEC Columnist. Follow Russ @russmitchellcfb.


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