SEC offenses lined up with three or more receivers on 69.7 percent of offensive plays in 2018, according to Sports Info Solutions, a steady increase over even the previous two years. It was 62.9 percent in 2016, and 65.3 in 2017.
The steep increase in passing among SEC teams dates back further: There were an average of 28.5 passes per game thrown by SEC teams in 2012. By last year it had increased to 32.3 per game.
But it’s not just that Texas A&M and Missouri and their up-tempo offenses joined the league. When Alabama and Georgia met in the 2012 SEC championship, they were two teams that together averaged 26 passes per game. By the time they met again in last year’s SEC championship, the two power-football teams were averaging 27.4 passes per game.
And so the defenses have reacted, to the point where calling anyone a 3-4 or 4-3 defense is antiquated. They may call that their base defense. But Georgia was in a version of the nickel – 4-2-5 or 3-3-5 — about 70 percent of the time last season.
It’s not your granddaddy’s SEC any more. Or your daddy’s, for that matter.