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SEC Football: Random Thoughts on a Tuesday

Oct 21, 2014 -- 11:28am

By Gary Brown

Follow on Twitter at: @cfbupdate

This morning I woke up with several thoughts about the SEC football season and how it is unfolding…here they are for your consideration. Feedback is welcome on twitter @cfbupdate.

Alabama is the most overrated of the SEC teams in the top five. The Tide still has secondary issues, a quarterback that is unproven outside of Bryant-Denny Stadium and special team problems. Sure they looked great against A&M, but it will take more than one week of great football to make a case that this team is a real contender.

With all the huffing and puffing about the dominance of the West, is it possible that the best team in the SEC is in the East? Georgia is looking like things are starting to gel as the season heads into the back stretch.

Mark Stoops has done a great job at Kentucky so far, but those who were proclaiming the Wildcats as a genuine challenger in the East this season, were buying in way more than reason would say you should and LSU showed why. The Wildcats lack depth on defense and don’t have enough playmakers on offense to be a legitimate contender yet. By the way, Mark Stoops won’t be there long enough to finish what he has started.

Dan Mullen has done exactly what it takes to build a school like Mississippi State into a winner. His two deep is loaded with seniors, eighteen in all. If you look at the starting offense and defense there are a combined fifteen players who won’t be back next year. This assumes that QB Dak Prescott and RB Josh Robinson both leave after this season. If you see Dan Mullen bolt for greener pastures after this season, it will tell you what he knows about the next couple of years in Starkville.

Arkansas rushes for almost 94 yards less in conference games than all games. By far the largest gap in the SEC. Much has been made about the size of the Razorback offensive line, but is this group not as good as billed or does the lack of a threat in the passing game allow teams to simply load the box up and put them in a bad position?

Ole Miss QB Bo Wallace has not thrown an interception in an SEC game this season. He has complimented that with seven touchdown passes. In all of 2013 he tossed a grand total of eight touchdown passes and nine picks against SEC teams. Has “Bad Bo” as he is often called been vanquished?

It is hard to tell if Gus Mazahn and his Auburn Tigers are the most over or under appreciated team in the SEC right now.

 

 

SEC Football-Television Schedule Week Eight

Oct 17, 2014 -- 9:15pm

SEC Schedule Week Eight

DateTime (ET)MatchupNetwork
Sat, Oct 1812:00 PMFurman at South CarolinaSEC NETWORK
Sat, Oct 183:30 PM# 21 Texas A&M at # 7 AlabamaCBS
Sat, Oct 184:00 PM# 10 Georgia at ArkansasSEC NETWORK
Sat, Oct 187:00 PMTennessee at # 3 Ole MissESPN3, ESPN
Sat, Oct 187:00 PMMissouri at FloridaESPN2
Sat, Oct 187:30 PMKentucky at LSUSEC NETWORK

 

Georgia vs. Arkansas: Who has the advantage?

Oct 17, 2014 -- 9:11pm

By Gary Brown

Follow on Twitter at: @cfbupdate

Arkansas will face Georgia Saturday at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock. The game will kickoff at 3:00 p.m. central time and be televised on the SEC Network.

Here is a preview of what to expect.

When Arkansas Runs the Ball

In All games Arkansas averages a whopping 278.7 yards per game and leads the SEC. In SEC only competition the Hogs rush for just 175.7 per outing and are fourth. The Razorbacks feature a one-two punch with Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins. Williams, with nine touchdowns, has racked up the most touchdowns since Knile Davis reached the end zone ten times in 2010. Collins averages 6.9 yards per carry.

Georgia’s run defense is giving up just 3.0 yards per rush and features a group of linebackers who are very good against the run. Amarlo Herrera and Ramik Wilson lead the defense and both are physical and fast. This Georgia defense does not give up big plays on the ground with the longest run from scrimmage being just 24 yards.

Advantage: Georgia

When Arkansas Throws the Ball

QB Brandon Allen has become more efficient passing the ball and went 116 throws before being intercepted by Landon Collins in the Alabama game. Tight end AJ Derby is becoming a reliable receiver for Allen. He has 12 catches and scored on  54 yard catch last week. Wide receiver Keon Hatcher has 16 catches, twelve which have been good for a first down. The Arkansas offensive line has only given up five sacks this season.

The Bulldogs defense has eight interceptions on the season, but allows opponents to complete 56.8 of their pass attempts. Defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt coaches the safeties and corners, and the team has fielded a different group of starters in five of their six games this season. There is plenty of youth in this group with Damian Swann being the lone senior. There are eight freshmen and sophomores in the playing rotation.

Advantage: Georgia

When Georgia Runs the Ball

The nation’s best player, RB Todd Gurley, will not be available as a suspension for a violation of NCAA rules is being sorted out. Freshman Nick Chubb carried the ball 38 times for 143 yards in his first start against Missouri last week. Besides losing Gurley, this group has faced issues with injuries with Sony Michel and Keith Marshall both missing significant playing time. Marshall may be close to a return, even possibly against the Hogs, But Michel will probably not be back for a couple of more weeks. The offensive line for Georgia is an experienced group.

Arkansas held the vaunted Alabama power running game in check allowing the Tide to rush for only 66 yards. For the season the Razorbacks are giving up 127.2 yards per contest. Trey Flowers is the SEC’s active leader in tackles for a loss with 39. Darius Philon has the most tackles for a loss among the defensive tackles in the SEC.

Advantage: Georgia

When Georgia Throws the Ball

Georgia QB Hutson Mason completes 70.5% of his passes, but has one of the lowest yards per attempt in the conference. He has not shown a comfort level throwing the ball deep in 2014 with his longest pass being for 44 yards against Vanderbilt. There are two reliable senior receivers that Mason can rely on. Chris Conley averages 14.9 yards per catch and Michael Bennett leads the receivers in catches and touchdowns with three.

Arkansas is giving up 246.7 yards per game this season through the air and has allowed 14 touchdowns. Only Vanderbilt gives up more than the 7.3 yards per attempt the Hogs allow. The Razorback secondary gets a boost from linebackers Martrell Spaight and Brooks Ellis, who are both good in coverage. Ellis may be out after being injured in the Alabama game.

Advantage: Georgia

Special Teams

Arkansas is fourth nationally in kick return average with 27.9 yards per return and the nation got a glimpse of Korliss Marshall’s explosiveness with his 97 yard kickoff return for a TD against Texas Tech. Sam Irwin-Hill is a consistent weapon as a punter and does a nice job of getting the ball down inside the twenty, or running it in for a touchdown on a fake like he did against Texas A&M.

Morgan Marshall is 7 of 9 on field goal attempts this season with a long of 47. The Bulldogs are only giving up 1.86 yards per punt return and give up only 19.32 yards on kickoff returns.

Advantage: Push

Coaching

Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema has a plan and is working it steadily by building the Hogs in the mold of his Big Ten teams at Wisconsin: big and physical. There is more work to be done, but the foundation for future success is being laid.

Bret Bielema Career Record: 74-36

Since arriving at Georgia as the head coach in 2001 Mark Richt has a winning percentage of .740 and two conference titles.

Mark Richt Career Record: 131-46

Advantage: Georgia

The Call

Georgia is 5-1 on the season and has good wins against Clemson and Missouri. They combine a strong running game with an improving defense, but don’t trust Hutson Mason throwing the ball downfield.

Arkansas has been close against Alabama and Texas A&M, but can’t seem to finish games in the fourth quarter.

Both of these teams like to run the football, but Georgia has shown the ability to stop other running games and the Bulldogs offensive line will create more running lanes than Bama’s did last week. To have a chance to win this game Arkansas will need to get consistent production from their passing game, which they have not had success doing this year.

Final Score: Georgia 31  Arkansas 21

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SEC Forecast and Predictions: Week Eight

Oct 17, 2014 -- 9:09pm

From Gary Brown

Follow on Twitter at: @cfbupdate

Here is a look at the games that make up week eight in the SEC and what to expect.

All times are central.

Furman (2-4) at South Carolina (3-3, 2-3 SEC)
11:00 a.m. | SEC Network

Furman started the season 2-0, but have dropped four straight since then. When the fourth quarter rolls around this week the Gamecocks won’t worry about blowing a lead like they did against Missouri and Kentucky.

Winner: South Carolina

#21 Texas A&M (5-2, 2-2 SEC) at #7 Alabama (5-1, 2-1 SEC)
2:30 p.m. | CBS

It has been a tough couple of weeks for both teams. The Aggies could very easily be riding a three game losing streak into this game and Bama could be coming off two losses. They both managed wins over Arkansas to keep that from happening. This clash will feature the passing attack of Kevin Sumlin, the defense of Nick Saban and two teams at the bottom of the turnover margin stats. Alabama needs to run the ball well this week and their offensive line has not shown they can get the ground game going. A plus for A&M is a Bama defense that can be vulnerable to the pass.

Winner: Texas A&M

#10 Georgia (5-1, 3-1 SEC) at Arkansas (3-3, 0-3 SEC)
3:00 p.m. |  SEC Network

There seems to be quite a few doubters of this Georgia team. In the SEC they are second in scoring offense, third in scoring defense, second in total defense and only give up 3 yards per rush. It is hard to replace the best player in college football, Todd Gurley, but Nick Chubb did an admirable job last week against Missouri with 143 rushing yards. Arkansas wants to feature a strong running game, but managed just 89 yards against Alabama last week. If the Hogs are one dimensional on offense it will be a long day.

Winner: Georgia

Tennessee (3-3, 0-2 SEC) at #3 Ole Miss (6-0, 3-0 SEC)
6:00 p.m. | ESPN

Ole Miss is coming off emotional wins over Alabama and Texas A&M. Can Rebel coach Hugh Freeze keep his team focused with a very average Tennessee team coming to Oxford? If there is a lack of attention this week, then the Rebels may find that real game breaks out. Tennessee has to take better care of the quarterback. Justin Worley is getting sacked almost four times a game. Is this the upset of the weekend? Possibly, but no.

Winner: Ole Miss

Missouri (4-2, 1-1 SEC) at Florida (3-2, 2-2 SEC)
6:00 p.m. | ESPN2

Is Maty Mauk underachieving as the starting quarterback for the Tigers? What did Jeff Driskel do wrong to deserve the fate he has experienced at quarterback for Florida? Does either have any real help in the supporting cast around him? One of these two schools will be finished in the SEC East race after this game. One coach may seal his fate with a bad outcome in The Swamp.

Winner: Missouri

Kentucky (5-1, 2-1 SEC) at LSU (5-2, 1-2 SEC)
6:30 p.m. | FSN/ESPN3

How good is Kentucky? It won’t be an upset if they win in the swamp. How bad is LSU? The Tigers are last in total defense in SEC games only. Tiger fans are hoping that last week was the start of reaching expectations for prized RB Leonard Fournette with his 140 yards on the ground last week. The only blemish on the Wildcats record this season is a three overtime loss against Florida. That game was on the road, like this one.

Winner: Kentucky

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SEC Power Rankings: Week Seven

Oct 17, 2014 -- 6:51am

From Gary Brown

Follow on Twitter at: @cfbupdate

Is there anything more fun than SEC football? Here are the power rankings after seven weeks of games.

1. Mississippi State

Three weeks and three wins over a top ten team. The Bulldogs got off to a fast start against Auburn and jumped to the top spot in the AP and USA Today polls. Be careful Coach Dan Mullen, that fake punt could have been devastating.

Trend: Up

2. Ole Miss

The Rebels had no post Alabama let down. QB Bo Wallace and company went on the road to College Station and won a game that was never in doubt against the Aggies.

Trend-Up

3. Auburn

There has been quite a bit of whining about officiating from the Plains this week, but turnovers and poor execution are what cost this Auburn team against Mississippi State.

Trend: Neutral

4. Georgia

Who knew that Todd Gurley had been holding the Dawgs offense back? Freshman RB Nick Chubb went for 143 yards in relief of Gurley against Missouri.

Trend-Up

5. Alabama

There must be talent on this Bama team. There is no other way to explain how they can overcome the really bad turnover margin they have and the badly timed penalties. They will drop big time if those trends continue.

Trend: Down

6. Texas A&M

It is hard to believe this is the same team many called the best team in the country after week one. The Aggies have now dropped two in a row to the Mississippi schools and came really close to a loss against Arkansas.

Trend: Down

7. Kentucky

Is the East going to come down to the game between Georgia and Kentucky? Coach Mark Stoops has us starting to believe in the Wildcats.

Trend: Up

8. Arkansas

The Hogs keep playing other teams tough, but can’t seem to take the next step. Is this weekend against Georgia when they figure out how to put an end to that SEC losing streak?

Trend: Up

9. Missouri

Missouri was 0-7 on third down against a stout Georgia defense. QB Maty Mauk was 9-21 passing against Georgia.

Trend: Down

10. LSU

It was not one for the ages, but the LSU win over Florida was entertaining. Highly touted freshman RB Leonard Fournette had, what may be a breakout day with 140 yards rushing and two touchdowns.

Trend: Neutral

11. Tennessee

Coach Butch Jones team earned a win last week, but it was against neighbor Tennessee-Chattanooga. Those really don’t count in Knoxville.

Trend: Neutral

12. Florida

Poor Jeff Driskel. The Gator QB threw an interception in the final minute against LSU that led to the Tigers winning field goal. What has this kid ever done wrong?

Trend: Down

13. South Carolina

It was a good week for the Gamecocks to be off. This team needs to find some help on the defensive front.

Trend: Neutral

14. Vanderbilt

It was a good thing the Commodores got the close win against Charleston Southern. I did not want to put the Buccaneers at number 14 in the power rankings. How can Vandy fall any further?

Trend: Down

 

 

 

SEC Football-Television Schedule Week Seven

Oct 10, 2014 -- 8:23pm
DateTime (ET)MatchupNetwork
Sat, Oct 1112:00 PM# 13 Georgia at # 23 MissouriCBS
Sat, Oct 1112:00 PMLouisiana-Monroe at KentuckySEC NETWORK
Sat, Oct 113:30 PM# 2 Auburn at # 3 Mississippi StateCBS
Sat, Oct 114:00 PMChattanooga at TennesseeSEC NETWORK
Sat, Oct 116:00 PM# 7 Alabama at ArkansasESPN
Sat, Oct 117:30 PMCharleston Southern at VanderbiltESPN3
Sat, Oct 117:30 PMLSU at FloridaSEC NETWORK
Sat, Oct 119:00 PM# 3 Ole Miss at # 14 Texas A&MESPN

 

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