SEC Weekend Recap
By Jeremy Hillman
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Week by week, we are learning what each team is about and where they may fall in the pecking order of the Southeastern Conference.
The 2012 SEC football season has been filled with surprises and interesting storylines at every turn. From meltdowns in Fayetteville to upward swings in Gainesville, there is no lack of drama or excitement in the Southeastern Conference this year.
Week Four of the schedule was more of the same, as we witnessed games that went down to the wire, upsets, lopsided blowouts and big plays throughout Saturday. Week by week, we are learning what each team is about and where they may fall in the pecking order of the Southeastern Conference.
Here is my weekly review of the SEC action:
Biggest Win: South Carolina 31 Missouri 10. A game many saw as a challenging early season game for South Carolina turned into an impressive lopsided victory for the Gamecocks. South Carolina is now 4-0 on the season and keeping pace with the SEC East leaders.
Worst Loss: Rutgers 35 Arkansas 26. Arkansas is a train wreck. A Big East team came into Razorback country and beat Arkansas soundly. Why hasn’t John L Smith already been relieved of his duties? It isn’t really his fault, obviously, but he certainly isn’t helping either. I would think they would want to go ahead and move on and get the “starting over” process going.
Offensive Player of The Week: South Carolina QB Connor Shaw. With questions surrounding his health and even his skill sets to a certain degree, Shaw stepped up and impressed against Missouri, connecting on 20 of his 21 passes for 249 yards and two touchdowns through the air, and running for another 41 yards on the ground.
Defensive Player of The Week: LSU DL Sam Montgomery. The big and athletic defensive lineman made a big impact in LSU’s close win over Auburn on Saturday. Montgomery racked up four tackles, including 3.5 tackles for a loss and a sack, and earned a safety in the first quarter — which ended up being the two point difference in the game.
1. Georgia running game. With emerging star running back Todd Gurley leading the way with 130 yards, Georgia rushed for 305 yards versus Vanderbilt on Saturday and scored five rushing touchdowns. They now average over 240 rush yards per game. Isaiah who?
2. Florida pass defense. After giving up just 60 passing yards to Kentucky on Saturday, Florida now ranks fourth in the conference in passing yards allowed — just 185 yards per game — and has given up just two touchdown passes in four games. Not to mention, Gator defenders have hauled in six interceptions already in 2012.
3. Mississippi State turnover margin. The Bulldogs are off to a solid start, running out to a 4-0 record on the season and have a top 25 ranking. One of the main reasons for such early success has been turnovers. Mississippi State has an eye popping +13 turnover margin. The Bulldogs have committed just two turnovers all season and have taken the ball away from the opposition and impressive 15 times.
1. LSU offense. Because of a solid defensive effort, LSU was able to narrowly escape Auburn with a win. However, the Tiger offense, especially quarterback Zach Mettenberger, looked lost and ineffective. Too many turnovers and not enough execution for a top five team. This side of the ball has to improve for Les Miles to have his team challenge for any titles this season.
2. Vanderbilt. Preseason expectations are now gone and disappointment is lingering in Nashville. A bowl game seems to be a reach at this point, and the fire and excitement around Coach James Franklin and the Commodores has faded away after a 1-3 start and a blowout loss to Georgia this past weekend.
3. Arkansas defense. The Razorbacks are now dead last in the SEC and 101st in the nation in total defense, giving up a dismal 459 yards per game to the opposition. Lack of pressure on the quarterback, missing open field tackles and poor coverage in the secondary have been consistent issues for the Arkansas defense.
Updated Bowl Projections:
BCS National Championship Game: Alabama Vs Oregon
BCS Sugar Bowl: Georgia Vs West Virginia
Capital One Bowl: South Carolina Vs Nebraska
Cotton Bowl: LSU Vs Oklahoma
Outback Bowl: Florida Vs Michigan
Chick-fil-A Bowl: Mississippi State Vs Virginia Tech
Gator Bowl: Tennessee Vs Northwestern
Music City Bowl: Texas A&M Vs NC State
Liberty Bowl: Missouri Vs Tulsa
Compass Bowl: Auburn Vs Connecticut
Updated Top 10 Players Ranking (based on performance, not potential):
1. Georgia LB Jarvis Jones
2. Georgia QB Aaron Murray
3. South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore
4. Texas A&M DL Damontre Moore
5. South Carolina DL Jadeveon Clowney
6. Tennessee WR Justin Hunter
7. Georgia RB Todd Gurley
8. Florida RB Mike Gillislee
9. Alabama QB A.J. McCarron
10. Auburn DL Corey Lemonier
Updated Awards Projections:
SEC Coach of The Year: Nick Saban, Alabama
SEC Offensive Player Of The Year: Georgia QB Aaron Murray
SEC Defensive Player Of The Year: Texas A&M DL Damontre Moore