UGA Bounces Back, SEC East up for grabs

UGA Bounces Back, SEC East up for grabs
September 9, 2013, 10:30 am
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The Georgia-South Carolina game looked more like a Big 12 shootout rather than a Southeastern Conference slugfest. The Bulldogs victory did reveal quite a few things to us though.

First Georgia and Mark Richt will be just fine and currently have the inside track for a third consecutive appearance in the SEC title game. It also showed us that combined with the Florida loss at Miami that the SEC East could be a free-for-all this season.

Good news for the Dawgs, they are one up on the Gamecocks. Bad news they play LSU and South Carolina does not. However that game is in Athens, where it was electric on Saturday afternoon.

The other thing revealed in the SEC East? Georgia, Florida and South Carolina are all 1-1 after two games and the only undefeated SEC East teams…Missouri and Tennessee.

Georgia did a nice job of game-planning on offense. Mike Bobo added some tempo to his system and also did a good job moving the pocket away from South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. Aaron Murray showed he can win a big game, getting his first “W” against South Carolina in his career. The key element though was Todd Gurley and the run game for Georgia. Gurley had a career high 30 attempts and ran for 132 yards. The Bulldogs had their second consecutive 200-plus-yard rushing performance against a top 10 team. Georgia’s defense has a lot of work to do, but being young and talented means they should get better as the season goes along.

South Carolina was not playing defense like we are used to seeing under Steve Spurrier. The run defense caved in and the group as a whole was not a cohesive unit. There was too much attention being paid to Jadeveon Clowney, but the shortcomings are at linebacker and safety. Lorenzo Ward is sure to get some “suggestions” from Spurrier this week as the Gamecocks need to establish an identity. Offensively South Carolina was right there until the fumble by Connor Shaw. The inability to score in the red zone was the major factor in this loss. Through two games the Gamecocks are just 50 percent on touchdown conversions in the red zone.

Florida dug itself a hole early against a fired up Miami team with a turnover and a big play, and the Canes had the belief they could win. If you look at the formula to beat Will Muschamp’s Gators it is to play from ahead and force turnovers. In the Gators’ last three losses to Georgia, Louisville and Miami they never led the game and had 14 turnovers. Quarterback Jeff Driskel showed he could bring the long ball into the offense, but a couple of costly interceptions will haunt him this week. The defense made a couple of costly mistakes, but held Miami to 1-for-11 on third down, 1.8 yards per carry and forced seven three-and-outs.

SEC or the Big 12? Five SEC teams are averaging over 500 yards of total offense through two games.

Rapid Fire

Auburn ran for 301 yards in its win over Arkansas State, and Nick Marshall had his first two touchdown passes of the season. Auburn has won 79-straight games when it scores over 30 points in a game. The Tigers are 7-for-7 in the red zone already this season.

LSU’s Zach Mettenberger set the single game touchdown record with five touchdown passes in the win over UAB. He also had a season high 282 yards passing. Odell Beckham Jr. had 136 receiving yards and now has 100-plus-yard receiving games in three of his last four.

Kentucky had 675 yards of total offense which was the third most in school history and most since 1998. The 413 yards passing against Miami of Ohio was the most by the Cats since 2007. The defense held Miami of Ohio to 1-for-16 on third down conversions.

Texas A&M has won eight in a row, its longest streak since 1998. Johnny Football warmed up with 426 yards passing in the victory over Sam Houston State. He had 462 total yards and generated four touchdowns. The 714 total yards were the fourth most in school history.

Ole Miss is now 2-0 with its win over SE Missouri State. The Rebels 31-0 halftime lead was the largest margin at the half since 2008.  Serderius Bryant filled in for the injured Denzel Nkemdiche and had a career-high 15 tackles.  Barry Brunetti ran for a career high 111 yards.

Arkansas rolled up 333 yards on the ground in its win over Samford. Alex Collins became the first freshman in school history to post back-to-back 100-yard rushing games to open his career, he had 172 yards. It was the most rushing yards in a game by a Razorback team since 2007.

Vanderbilt bounced back with a huge win over Austin Peay, scoring 38 points in the first half. The 38 was the most in the first half against someone since 1999. Jordan Matthews has now caught a touchdown in seven-straight games and in 20 games in his career.

Missouri recorded three interceptions for the second-straight game in a hard fought victory over Toledo. The Tigers, who had just seven interceptions all season last year, have six already in 2013. James Franklin ran for 77 yards, the most by him since the Independence Bowl in 2011.

Tennessee had an easy win over Western Kentucky thanks to turnovers and defense.  The Vols forced seven turnovers from the Hilltoppers, which is the most by a Tennessee defense since 1984 against Memphis.  Tennessee also had four rushing touchdowns, giving them seven on the season.

Mississippi State got its first win, 51-7 over Alcorn State, and did it with Dac Prescott playing well at quarterback in his first-career start throwing two touchdowns. Dan Mullen is 24-4 when his team scores 25 points or more. The 278 rushing yards by the Bulldogs were the most since getting 333 against Auburn in 2011.

This and That…

Alabama goes to Texas A&M this week and it will be the game of the week. The Tide’s defense against the Aggies offense will be the show to watch. Last season Texas A&M had 165 yards rushing against Alabama, which was the most the Tide has allowed since 2010. Johnny Manziel, and his mobility, will give Bama fits, but look for Kirby Smart to try and make him beat Alabama with his arm.

Auburn hosts Mississippi State this week in an SEC West tilt. The Bulldogs hope to have quarterback Tyler Russell back, but this game will be decided by which defense can shut down the other team’s running game. This can be a momentum-building win for both programs early in the season.

Ole Miss is ranked and Texas is not. Who had that prediction for three weeks into the season? Well the Rebels should be ranked, and I like their chances this week to go to Austin and get payback for the beat down they took in Oxford last season. This would be a huge win for Hugh Freeze and his program. Bo Wallace must take care of the football on the road to get a win.

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