Category Archives: SEC Football

SEC Power Poll, Week 7

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And then there were two.

Really, is there any more that needs to be said about this week’s SEC than that?

  1. Alabama.  Is there any more of a lock than betting on a Nick Saban team to crush a conference opponent the week after a somewhat close game?
  2. Georgia.  “The offense definitely picked up our slack,” said inside linebacker Roquan Smith…  now there’s something I didn’t expect to read.
  3. Auburn.  Gus’ nonchalance aside, with the loss to LSU, the Tigers pretty much have to run the table to make it to the conference title game.
  4. Texas A&M.  You can’t spell winning ugly without winning.
  5. LSU.  Ed Orgeron stared into the abyss and won for the second straight week.
  6. Florida.  Nice uniforms, Gators.
  7. Kentucky.  Still America’s ugliest 5-1 team.
  8. South Carolina.  Tennessee football, a wholly owned subsidiary of Boom Enterprises, Inc.
  9. Mississippi State.  Finally emerged with a win.  Then again, who doesn’t beat BYU these days?
  10. Ole Miss.  The Landsharks, formerly the Black Bear Rebels, have a conference win to their name, which is more than you can say for the last four schools.
  11. Tennessee.  It could be worse, Booch.  At least your team isn’t playing Alabama this week… oh, wait.
  12. Arkansas.  This is a putrid team with a marginally better defense than the ones at Missouri and Vandy, which is why I had to place the Hogs twelfth.
  13. Missouri.  The best thing the Tigers have going for them at this point is that they get to play Vanderbilt.
  14. Vanderbilt.  The Commodores’ defense is one slim point shy of yielding fifty points a game in conference play.
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I’m about to post something weird.

Don’t look now, Georgia, but after yesterday, more and more it’s looking like… Kentucky.

Tennessee, one of the Dawgs’ traditional rivals, was already in a deep hole to take the East.  South Carolina merely shoveled the dirt into the burial plot.  Florida, with its second conference loss in a row, now needs help to win the division even if the Gators prevail at the Cocktail Party in a couple of weeks.  (For the record, I take nothing for granted in the city of Jacksonville.)

That leaves only one team in the East with only one loss.  The Wildcats.

It’s not just the record that has me pointing out UK.  Take a look at the remaining schedule.  Outside of Georgia, there’s not a conference school left that Kentucky won’t have a decent shot of beating, and in Georgia’s case, the ‘Cats will get them at a favorable moment, after the Dawgs have run the Florida-Auburn gauntlet.  (There’s a game with South Carolina tucked in the middle of that, too.)

I admit that, on paper at least, Kentucky hasn’t exactly been that formidable a team.  Sagarin has UK around sixty in his ratings.  On the other hand, you can make an argument that Kentucky is a whisker away from being 6-0 right now, but for a couple of unforced errors against Florida.

In any event, winning the division is measured by an objective standard, not a subjective one.  The team with the most conference wins goes to Atlanta.  Right now, the UGA-UK game is starting to shape up as one where Kentucky would have a puncher’s chance to sneak into that conference title game.

I may not have gone into the season thinking Georgia was a lock to win the East, but it certainly wasn’t a stretch to think the Dawgs would be a divisional favorite.  Picking the Kentucky game as the one for all the divisional marbles, though?  I doubt anybody saw that coming.

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You know you’re having a rough season when…

… your team is off to such a slow start, you can’t even keep track of how many games you’ve lost.

As far as Missouri linebacker Terez Hall is concerned, the Tigers are much better than they have played this year…

“You’ve seen that we’re 1-5,” Hall said, accidentally mistaking the Tigers’ record. “That’s our identity. Until we change that, that’s what we’re going to be. So we got to play hard.

“We got to go out and get a win. Because we’re playing Georgia this weekend, that don’t mean nothing. It’s the same goal, go 1-0. We’re trying to win this weekend like how we were trying to win last week.”

Of course, the snark inside me feels like Hall may just be anticipating this weekend’s result.

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You know who’s gonna have a great season?

No, Jimmy Sexton isn’t James Franklin’s agent.  But with the current crop of geniuses running athletic departments, ask yourself how much that matters.

By the way, it turns out Bert’s buyout figure is less than half what people thought it was, should he be canned at season’s end.  It’s kind of pathetic that a $5.9 million payout is a cause for celebration, but, hey, that’s the world the SEC lives in these days.

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Filed under It's Just Bidness, Jimmy Sexton is the Nick Saban of agents and is Nick Saban's agent, SEC Football

Passing completions and first downs

This may be turn out to be nothing more than one of those amusing little statistical matters I occasionally allow myself to be sidetracked by, but this Chase Stuart post comparing overall completion percentage to completion for first down percentage got me to thinking (dangerous, I know).  If the quarterback’s primary responsibility is to see to it that the offense doesn’t come off the field until it posts a score, then his role in moving the chains rather than just hitting his receivers would appear to be a meaningful distinction that Stuart analyzes.

Essentially, he measured total dropbacks (pass attempts plus sacks) against passing first downs.  You can probably guess what I did next.

Here’s how the SEC breaks down in that department.  Ratio is expressed as first downs by pass/dropbacks (attempts plus sacks allowed) and teams are listed in order of percentage:

  • Alabama:  54/146 (36.99%)
  • Kentucky:  60/176 (34.09%)
  • Arkansas:  47/148 (31.76%)
  • Missouri:  57/181 (31.49%)
  • Ole Miss:  68/216 (31.48%)
  • LSU:  44/144 (30.56%)
  • Vanderbilt:  51/173 (29.48%)
  • South Carolina:  60/206 (29.13%)
  • Auburn:  48/165 (29.09%)
  • Georgia:  32/114 (28.07%)
  • Texas A&M:  54/200 (27.00%)
  • Tennessee:  44/166 (26.51%)
  • Florida:  39/138 (24.64%)
  • Mississippi State:  36/152 (23.68%)

I’m not exactly sure how much to read into that.  Georgia, for example, has a pretty mediocre percentage there, but given that it has relied on the pass fewer times than any other SEC team, it’s not as significant as it might be seen in the abstract.  On the other hand, TAMU’s percentage, given the number of dropbacks, probably does indicate that its offense isn’t as smoothly efficient in moving the ball consistently as others.

Quarterback play and overall offensive philosophy are both factors, then.  I probably ought to come back to visit this at season’s end and drag general offensive production in to see if there are any correlations worth considering.

I figured I’d take a look at how the conference defenses did, as well.  (Same source for pass attempts defended, sacks and defensive first downs.)  Results are posted in the same format order.

  • Georgia:  40/204 (19.61%)
  • Mississippi State: 23/105 (21.90%)
  • Auburn:  48/214 (22.43%)
  • Alabama:  47/206 (22.82%)
  • Vanderbilt:  39/161 (24.22%)
  • Arkansas:  42/164 (25.61%)
  • LSU:  52/198 (26.26%)
  • Tennessee:  30/108 (27.78%)
  • Kentucky:  70/249 (28.11%)
  • Texas A&M:  67/230 (29.13%)
  • Florida:  48/161 (29.81%)
  • South Carolina:  73/229 (31.88%)
  • Missouri:  54/165 (32.73%)
  • Ole Miss:  50/145 (34.48%)

Obviously, there are a few variables in play here besides the quarterback, but can I just say I’m a little impressed with Mel Tucker?  Georgia is first in the country in defensive yards per pass attempt and makes it harder than any other team in the conference to throw for a first down.  Not too shabby.

Again, it’s probably best to take this for now as nothing more than a marker being placed by me.  I’ll revisit all this in a larger context after the season.  At least it’ll give me something to do in March, right?

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If you’ve longed for the days of Jared Lorenzen…

Arkansas may be starting a quarterback this week who’s a 6-foot-7, 268-pound redshirt freshman.

“I’m not sure they’ll change their offense but when (Kelley) has played they’ve done more quarterback runs,” Saban said Wednesday. “This guy is like 6-7, 270 pounds. In fact when I first started watching the film I thought he was a Wildcat quarterback that was (also) a tight end.”

Mercy.

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First peek at Missouri

This article, from beat writer Dave Matter, highlights a thing to fear and a thing to watch for Saturday night.

The scary part is scary.

If the Tigers could extract any positives from the 40-34 loss, they came via the deep ball. On passes that traveled through the air more than 20 yards past the line of scrimmage, Lock completed four of nine for 231 yards and three touchdowns. That’s a passer efficiency rating of 370. On balls that traveled 30 yards or more, he completed three of five for 181 yards and two scores and a rating of 496.1.

Lock’s arm strength has dazzled coaches and teammates since his first college practice two years ago, and on Hall’s touchdown he put the ball in the air for 60 yards from release to catch…

Mizzou’s outside threats paid off elsewhere. Once the Tigers connected on a few deep balls Saturday, Kentucky dropped its safeties further from the line of scrimmage, clearing running lanes for backs Ish Witter and Damarea Crockett, who combined for 213 rushing yards and 7.3 yards per carry.

Not too shabby.  But this is still a 1-4 team.  So what’s the problem, Kirby Smart?

Turnovers, Smart noted, were Mizzou’s trouble last season and again this fall.

“They were very hard to defend last year, and they are very hard to defend this year,” Smart said this week. “They stop themselves. People don’t stop them.”

He’s not exaggerating.  Missouri in 2017 is last in the conference in turnover margin, at a whopping minus-10.  The Tigers haven’t won the turnover battle against a single P5 opponent this season; not so coincidentally, those games constitute their four losses.

But there’s a little more going on there when you break it down.  Sure, Mizzou is last in losing the ball and by a pretty wide margin.  Through the first six weeks, there isn’t another SEC school within four turnovers.  But, with only four, Missouri is also thirteenth in the SEC in forcing turnovers.

If you’re wondering how Georgia can cover a 30-point spread this weekend, that’s a pretty good way to get there.  On the flip side, if Mizzou picks this game as its first when it doesn’t blow the turnover margin battle, you have to think at worst it’s got enough firepower to keep things closer than the spread.

Back to the scary part for a second, though.  Yes, those long distance stats are concerning; however, it’s worth considering that Georgia brings a little firepower of its own to the table, as the Dawgs lead the conference in offensive plays of 20+ yards.  (Missouri is a respectable fifth.)

Perhaps of greater interest, though, is how these two teams stack up defending the big play.  In that regard, it’s no contest.  For defensive plays of 20+ yards, Georgia ranks first in the SEC and Missouri is twelfth.  Which means that when the Tigers are on offense, it’ll be strength against strength, while when they’re playing defense, not so much.

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