Week 5 in the SEC managed to answer some questions and at the same time present brand new ones. One of the most glaring new questions —is Auburn any good on offense?— won’t directly be addressed here this week because the Tigers won, but I’m certain someone has written this article somewhere. Among the five teams in our fair league that lost on Saturday, there are more than enough questions to discuss.
We’ll start here because I do think a new question was posed following the South Carolina Gamecocks’ 24-10 loss to the Kentucky Wildcats. The game itself was a sloppy outing with four turnovers and a host of other self-inflicted wounds. Dropped passes and penalties doomed Carolina. But enough about the game.
Were South Carolina’s preseason expectations too high?
It looks like this is the case now. Does that mean this is a bad team and that the Gamecocks still can’t go on to have a good season? No. No one was really looking for them to usurp Georgia as SEC East champs, but determining what caused the “they can really challenge them” narrative is easy. South Carolina was 9-4 in 2017.
It takes a good team to win nine games, but you have to take into account that they beat three SEC teams who were mailing it in with coaches that would be fired. A win is a win, but they also scraped past Louisiana Tech by a single point at home in Week 4 of 2017. Coming into the Outback Bowl in January, the Michigan team that the Gamecocks defeated was 0-4 in its games against ranked teams during the regular season.
Beyond the deceptively inflated record, we can’t forget that their same rushing attack that finished 111th nationally in yards per game last season returned for 2018.
There is no need to panic if you’re a Carolina fan. Will Muschamp simply needs time to build a truly deep team that can make a push for Atlanta.
The expectations weren’t high for the Ole Miss defense coming into the season and well, this was warranted. The LSU Tigers put up 573 total yards in their 45-16 victory in Baton Rouge on Saturday night. Joe Burrow earned the SEC Offensive Player of the week award after his best passing and rushing performances of the season so far.
This wasn’t too surprising. But also in this game it was encouraging that the Rebels managed a few big gains on offense against an LSU defense that has been incredibly stout so far. Finishing drives was an issue after some of these big plays, however.
As the season wears on, there are winnable games left on this schedule as the two most complete defenses the Rebels will see (Alabama and LSU) are already behind them.
*Sad trombone plays* The return of Dan Mullen did not go as planned. The Mississippi State Bulldogs held the Florida Gators to 13 points on Saturday night in front of a raucous Davis-Wade Stadium crowd. That’s the good news. On the flip side, the only points that the Dawgs mustered came from two field goals.
What happened to the offense?
It seems like Joe Moorhead received two offenses from Amazon, one for non-conference games and another for SEC contests. Somehow he forgot to open his SEC offensive package. In their first two conference games, Mississippi State has only scored one touchdown and amassed 402 total yards of offense combined. Receivers are dropping passes and the offensive line isn’t protecting Nick Fitzgerald particularly well.
The Bulldogs have another chance to open up that conference box this weekend at home against Auburn and hopefully they do. A win can help shift momentum in the opposite direction, and with the way the Auburn offense has looked, victory is certainly not out of the question.
Things were...honestly not as bad as they could have been in Athens as the Tennessee Volunteers fell to the Georgia Bulldogs 38-12. Luck still seemed to escape the Vols at various points in the game, i.e. a potential strip sack turning into a TD for Georgia and two failed 2-point conversions. But the TDs before the conversions came on two nice chunk plays, passes of 37 and 35 yards from Jarrett Guarantano to Josh Palmer and Ty Chandler respectively.
The big takeaway, though is that the Vols cleaned things up. Only one turnover! Yeah, the SEC losing streak continued, but at least six early turnovers didn’t doom them from the get go like in the Florida game. It was a 12 point game in the fourth quarter. Keep pushing, Vols.
The Arkansas Razorbacks turned in a valiant defensive performance against Texas A&M on Saturday in the “Southwest Classic.” The score was 24-17, but seven of A&M’s points came off a 100 yard kick return TD from Jashaun Corbin.
Allowing only 17 points to an offense with known weapons like Kellen Mond and Trayveon Williams is an impressive feat for any team. Dre Greenlaw grabbed two interceptions. Aside from the win against Eastern Illinois, this game gives Razorback fans the most to feel encouraged about to this point in the season.
Bama does come to town this weekend, BUT look for the offense to be opened up like never before this season.