Monday, October 1, 2012
Hot and Not in the SEC
By Chris Low
It’s time to take our weekly temperature in the SEC and find out who’s hot and who’s not:
Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel: Texas A&M offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury said it best following Manziel’s record-breaking performance in the Aggies’ 58-10 romp over Arkansas. “The sky is the limit,” Kingsbury said. Manziel set an SEC record for total offense against the Hogs with 557 yards. He also set a Texas A&M record with 453 passing yards. Already a splendid athlete, Manziel is becoming a better quarterback every time he takes the field. In his last three games, the redshirt freshman has passed for 921 yards, 10 touchdowns and no interceptions, and he’s also rushed for 306 yards with five more touchdowns. He’s sixth nationally with 1,460 total yards, and at this rate, could make a run at the SEC record of 4,327 yards, which was set by Cam Newton in 2010.
Georgia’s swagger: The Bulldogs are 5-0 and have scored 40 or more points in all five games. It’s a confident bunch of Dawgs that heads to No. 6 South Carolina on Saturday. Said receiver Michael Bennett following the 51-44 win over Tennessee: “The only team that can really beat us right now is ourselves.”
Arkansas running back Knile Davis: We saw a glimpse of the old Knile Davis last Saturday on his 64-yard touchdown reception, but it’s been a tough road back from his fractured ankle. Davis is averaging just 3.3 yards per carry through five games, and he lost fumbles in both the Texas A&M and Alabama games.
Missouri defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson has been making a statement with his play in recent weeks.
Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson: He’s now making news on the field after making his ill-advised “old-man football” comment prior to the Georgia game. Richardson is second on the team with 33 total tackles, including five tackles for loss, and also leads the team with six quarterback hurries. He’s been as active as any interior defensive lineman in the league.
Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray: It goes back to making better decisions and delivering in the clutch. Bray turned the ball over on each of the Vols’ final three possessions in the 51-44 loss to Georgia and missed some throws to wide-open receivers in the second half that could have gone for big gains. He'll have several more chances this month in big games to make amends.
South Carolina’s second-half defense: In the final seconds against Missouri two weeks ago, the Gamecocks gave up a meaningless touchdown. That’s the only points they’ve allowed in the second half in their last three games after shutting out Kentucky after halftime last week.
Tennessee’s defense: In their first two SEC games, the Vols have given up a whopping 88 points. Not only that, but they’ve allowed at least 555 total yards in both games. The number of big plays Tennessee is giving up on defense is staggering. Just in the two league games, opponents have racked up five scoring plays that were longer than 50 yards.
Georgia’s freshman phenoms: It’s still too early to make a lot of comparisons, but the Bulldogs’ freshman duo of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall has been nothing short of sensational. Between them, they have 964 rushing yards and have scored 15 touchdowns. Is it realistic to think that the Bulldogs could have a pair of true freshmen to rush for 1,000 yards this season?
LSU’s edge: Even though the Tigers have lost some key players to injury and suspension, they’re not lacking in talent. But something’s missing. It’s a team that’s done just enough to skate by the past few weeks, and that’s going to catch up with them unless the Tigers regain their edge. They’re going to need it these next four games -- at Florida, South Carolina at home, at Texas A&M and Alabama at home.
Arkansas’ season: There’s such a thing as collapses and meltdowns, and then there’s what has happened to the Hogs this season. It was only natural to wonder how the whole Bobby Petrino scandal and his ouster would affect the team this season and whether or not the Hogs would be fragile when they encountered adversity. But to see this team totally unravel has been stunning. The Hogs have gone from being a top-10 team nationally in the preseason to battling with Kentucky for the dubious distinction of being the worst team in the SEC. Right now, the Hogs aren’t even competitive and are abysmal on defense. They’re 116th nationally (out of 120 teams) in scoring defense and have given up 179 points in four games against FBS foes.