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SEC Spin Zone: Week 7

What can your team take from its loss?

Georgia v LSU Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

“Bring your brooms...because it’s a mess.” Those are the words of fictitious congressional candidate, Marty Huggins from The Campaign. This phrase from the 2012 comedy aptly describes America’s reaction to Saturday’s results in college football. Carnage everywhere. Upsets and near upsets were the theme of the day and the SEC was no exception.


Georgia

Georgia, Georgia, Georgia. Let’s get this out of the way and just say that this game was ugly with no alibi. As a result, you’re in the Spin Zone for the first time in 2018. In the 36-16 defeat to the LSU Tigers, the Bulldogs were out of rhythm and off balance for the entire game. The Tiger defense even held Georgia to zero points in the first half.

LSU came to play and re-established their status as one of the most solid teams in the country. This was after pundits started to question said status after their loss to Florida. Clyde Edwards-Helaire had his coming out party and proved that he and Nick Brossette can become one of the top RB duos in the sport going forward. Saturday was a perfect storm for a Georgia loss. An away game in a tough environment against a good team that’s out for revenge? Check. Not really having been challenged too much coming into this game? Check.

This loss reminds many of the smacking the Dawgs took last season in Auburn. That game was their first real test of the year aside from the Notre Dame game in Week 2 of 2017. Can Georgia bounce back like they did last season? They can if Jim Chaney finds ways to make Jake Fromm and the offense more comfortable when an opponent can provide true resistance. Georgia’s offense seeing strong resistance for the entire game is rare, but not impossible as evidenced on Saturday. On the other side of the ball, the departures from last season —most notably Roquan Smith— were the most noticeable they had been all season.

The good news is, there’s a bye week to iron things out before the Cocktail Party on October 27. Kirby Smart will not take this extra time lightly.

Auburn

It’s no secret that all of the warning lights are now on in the dashboard of the Gus Bus. This blinding display is the result of the Auburn Tigers being the opponent in Tennessee’s first conference win since 2016.

Breaking down this game is simple. Tennessee made the clutch plays when they needed to and didn’t turn the ball over. Jarrett Guarantano and the Volunteer receivers connected on some sublime long gains and touchdowns. The other Jarrett in this contest, Jarrett Stidham threw for 322 yards, but also tossed two interceptions and lost a fumble. It’s been a rough go recently for the junior.

Having three losses halfway through October is depressing for sure, but solace for Tiger fans can be taken in a few truths about this team for the rest of the season:

  1. The run defense is still great (Mississippi State was a mulligan). It held Tennessee to 68 yards.
  2. Anthony Schwartz could be the fastest player in college football. Give it up for big plays!
  3. You can still play spoiler to Georgia and Alabama.

South Carolina

The game between the South Carolina Gamecocks and Texas A&M Aggies was similar to Auburn and Tennessee’s game in that one team protected the ball better than the other. Not only did A&M avoid turnovers, they held the ball for 41:29. Carolina on the other hand, simply had too many drives stall to go along with an interception and fumble.

A poor rushing attack also reared its ugly head again for the Gamecocks as they only gained 76 yards on the ground. This can be taken with a grain of salt, however since A&M has the third ranked run defense in FBS. Aside from Clemson (currently at ninth), South Carolina doesn’t face another rush defense that’s currently ranked higher than 60th for the rest of the season.

We should see more balance return to this offense.

Vanderbilt

Competitive Vandy back! It’s hard to say if Vosean Joseph being ejected is 100% of what energized Florida to swing momentum in this 11:00 am game, but it certainly played a role after a brief fracas between the coaches and players. Some turnover luck also contributed to Vanderbilt’s 21-3 second quarter lead in the eventual 37-27 loss to the Florida Gators. It was still good to see the Commodores being in control of the game for a little while, however.

Florida’s physicality eventually took hold and this leaves Vanderbilt still looking for their first SEC win. The remainder of the Dores’ schedule contains only conference games, but there is just one game remaining against a team that is currently ranked. This is encouraging after having already played Notre Dame, Georgia and Florida.

Arkansas

The Arkansas Razorbacks and Ole Miss rebels played yet another close and exciting game on Saturday night. This isn’t new. What is relatively new, is that Ole Miss won this game for the first time since 2013.

Not only is Arkansas adjusting to life under a new head coach, it looks like that his team is simply snakebitten. With his team up 33-31, Reid Bauer launched a beautiful 64 yard punt that was downed at the Ole Miss 3 yard line. 2:02 remained in the game. The Razorback defense then allowed the Rebs to march 97 yards in 1:20 and surrendered a touchdown to go down 37-33. Ole Miss’ two-point conversion was stopped, but then the Arkansas offense managed to end another game by throwing an interception, which is what also happened vs. Texas A&M.

The Razorbacks are now 1-6. Pride and improvement are what’s left to be played for, but in a textbook rebuilding year, this isn’t too surprising and not at all a reason to jump ship.

Missouri

The Missouri Tigers had this week’s distinction of being the victim of the Alabama Crimson Tide. This week’s morsel of positivity for Bama’s victim is that Mizzou held Tua Tagovailoa to his lowest completion percentage of the year! Tiger fans, your team held the Heisman Candidate to a 55% completion percentage after his previous low was an absurd 68%.

Now onto a Tiger vs. Tiger fight in Week 8 against Memphis.