Monday, October 15, 2012
Hot and Not in the SEC
By Chris Low
Anybody hot? Anybody not?
We take our weekly temperature in the SEC:
Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel is on pace to set the SEC record for total offense in a season.
Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel: This guy is playing in his own league right now. Johnny Football accounted for six touchdowns Saturday in Texas A&M’s wild 59-57 win over Louisiana Tech, and he broke the SEC record for total offense that he had established earlier this season. Manziel finished with 576 total yards, including 181 yards rushing. He now leads the SEC in rushing with an average of 112.7 yards per game. His numbers (14 passing touchdowns and 10 rushing touchdowns) are phenomenal, but even more so when you consider that he’s only a redshirt freshman and has played all of six college games. Manziel is on track to break the SEC record for total offense in a season. Cam Newton set the record in 2010 with 4,327 yards in 14 games. Manziel already has 2,356 yards in six games. Only three players in SEC history have surpassed 4,000 yards in a season -- Tim Couch (1998), Tim Tebow (2007) and Newton.
LSU’s pride: The Tigers haven’t lost two games in a row since the 2008 season, and they weren’t about to let South Carolina come into their den and change that. LSU not only beat the Gamecocks, but the Tigers beat up the Gamecocks physically in a 23-21 win Saturday in Tiger Stadium. The win served notice that LSU is still a player in the SEC and national championship races.
Tennessee defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri: There was genuine excitement in Big Orange Country when the Vols hired Sunseri away from Alabama, but they’re ready to ship him back after watching his defense give up 129 points and 66 first downs in three SEC games. It’s been a disaster for Tennessee on defense.
Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace: Obviously, Wallace knows how to reach the end zone. In the 41-20 win over Auburn, he rushed for a touchdown, passed for a touchdown and caught a touchdown pass, becoming the first player in Ole Miss history to pull off that feat.
South Carolina’s run defense: The Gamecocks had flexed their muscle against the run all season. Teams were averaging just 2.2 yards per carry against them, but a purple-and-gold bulldozer left nothing but feathers in its wake Saturday on the Bayou. LSU gashed South Carolina for 258 rushing yards and did it by blowing the Gamecocks off the line of scrimmage.
Alabama’s running game: The weather was nasty this past weekend in Missouri, and so was Alabama’s running game. The Crimson Tide pounded out 362 yards on the ground with Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon both topping the 100-yard mark. Lacy finished with 177 yards and three touchdowns, while Yeldon had 144 yards and two touchdowns.
Kentucky’s third-down defense: The Wildcats really haven’t stopped much of anybody this season on defense. But on third down, it’s been even more glaring. They’re 119th out of 120 FBS teams in third-down conversion defense. Teams are converting against them 55.7 percent of the time. The only defense that’s been worse is Baylor, which is not the kind of company you want to be keeping on the defensive side of the ball.
Cowbell Central: The Mississippi State fans should be proud. They’ve rekindled a super home-field advantage at Scott Field under Dan Mullen. It’s obviously not as big as most stadiums in the SEC, but that place was rocking (and clanging) Saturday night against Tennessee in what was the Bulldogs’ 20th straight home sellout.
Late games: What’s with some of these late start times? Yes, I know the reason. But football wasn’t meant to be played after 1 o’clock in the morning.
Auburn: How far have the Tigers fallen just two years after winning the national championship? They travel to Vanderbilt this weekend, and the Commodores -- who are just 1-13 against Auburn since 1950 -- are a touchdown favorite. There have been happier times on the Plains, for sure. Auburn has lost six straight SEC games going back to last season and seven of its past eight. Only one of those seven losses has been closer than 17 points. The Tigers (1-5, 0-4) are ranked 12th in the SEC in total defense, although the 41-20 loss to Ole Miss was the first time this season that they’d given up 30 or more points in a game. The bigger problem has been the offense, which is ranked last in the SEC in total offense and scoring offense. The Tigers have scored just four offensive touchdowns in four SEC games, and it appears now that they will lean toward playing more younger guys the rest of the season.