Sidelines with John Clay

SEC football notes: Georgia shows it’s not backing up

Georgia linebacker D’Andre Walker (15) celebrates after making a play during the first half of an NCAA college football game against South Carolina, Saturday in Columbia, S.C.
Georgia linebacker D’Andre Walker (15) celebrates after making a play during the first half of an NCAA college football game against South Carolina, Saturday in Columbia, S.C. Athens Banner-Herald via AP

SEC football notes:

We already knew this, but Georgia confirmed it in style last Saturday: The Bulldogs are the team to beat in the SEC East.

The defending SEC champions and national runner-up destroyed South Carolina 41-17 in Columbia. UP 20-10 at the half, Kirby Smith’s club outscored the hosts 21-0 in the third quarter to put the game away. It was Carolina’s worst home loss to UGA since 1971.

“They aren’t any better than us,” said South Carolina safety Steven Montac. “They just executed.”

You can believe what you want to believe, but Georgia rolled up 236 yards in that decisive third quarter. The Bulldogs are now 16-2 in their last 18 games overall and 10-1 in their last 11 SEC games. The one loss came at Auburn last season, the same Auburn that UGA then beat in the SEC Championship game.

Josh Kendall of The State points out, “Since Georgia coach Kirby Smart was hired, the Bulldogs have finished No. 6, No. 3 and No. 1 in 247Sports’ composite national recruiting rankings. Their projected class of 2019 is ranked No. 1 at the moment, too.”

So what’s the fallout at Florida since its winning streak over Kentucky went from 31 to none last Saturday?

Head coach Dan Mullen did not dispute Mark Stoops’ correct assertion that Kentucky was the more physical team in The Swamp. “I think our physicality is going to be something this team — and we’ve talked about it constantly — they have to continue to work on,” Mullen said. “And it starts in practice.”

The Gators are expected to get defensive end CeCe Jefferson back for Saturday’s game against Colorado State. Jefferson was suspended for Florida’s first two games against Charleston Southern and UK.

The Gators are scrambling in the secondary. Sophomore cornerback Marco Wilson is out for the season with an ACL tear suffered Saturday against UK. Florida now has just four scholarship cornerbacks on the roster for coordinator Todd Grantham. Florida had already lost safety Quincy Lenton to a ruptured Achilles.

Speaking of Colorado State, Arkansas is trying to get over blowing an 18-point lead in its 34-27 loss to the Rams, which had lost its first two games. Playing at home in Ft. Collins, Colorado State scored on a one-yard run by Izzy Matthews with all of eight seconds left for the victory.

The Razorbacks have to be wondering about their quarterback. New head coach Chad Morris pulled the plug on starter Ty Storey at halftime. Cole Kelley entered the second half and hit on six of nine passes for 102 yards and two touchdowns. Kelley is a sophomore from Lafayette, La. ESPN rated him a four-star recruit coming out of high school.

It hasn’t taken long for Jimbo Fisher to put some juice into the Texas A&M offense. The Aggies are currently No. 3 in total offense at 629.5 yards per game. True, that number is partially skewed by A&M’s 758 yards in its 59-7 win over FCS Northwestern State in the opener. But the Aggies gained 501 yards on the ballyhooed Clemson defense last week, though in 28-26 losing effort.

The Aggies have Louisiana-Monroe this Saturday before an Aug. 22 trip to Tuscaloosa and top-ranked Alabama.

Vanderbilt takes its 2-0 start to South Bend to play Notre Dame on Saturday. Derek Mason’s defense has been lights-out so far, giving up just 294 yards and seven points to Middle Tennessee, then 250 yards and 10 points to Nevada. And on the opposite side of the b all, Vandy quarterback Kyle Shurmur, son of New York Giants head coach Pat Shurmur, hit on 23 of 23 passes for 258 yards and two touchdowns against Nevada.

Mississippi State’s defense has been stellar through the first two games, as well. After giving up 254 yards to Stephen F. Austin in the opener, the Bulldogs allowed Kansas State just 213 yards in that convincing 31-10 win in Manhattan.

From Kellis Robinnett of the Wichita Eagle, “Soft. Pitiful. Embarrassing. Those are some of the words K-State coach Bill Snyder and players used to describe the Wildcats’ offensive showing against Mississippi State.”

Through two games, Ole Miss quarterback Jordan Ta’amu has completed 45 of 65 passes (69.2 percent) for 784 yards and seven touchdowns without an interception. Through two games, the Rebels have scored 123 points. And are 2-0.

Through two games, Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has completed 25 of 35 passes (71.4 percent for 455 yards and six touchdowns without an interception. Not bad.

Alabama is at Ole Miss on Saturday. Tagovaioloa is second in the nation in pass efficiency (237.20) behind Toledo’s Mitchell Guadagni (269.76). Ta’amu is seventh nationally in pass efficiency (206.09).

The Crimson Tide smashed the Rebels 66-3 last season, by the way.

Playing behind Derrius Guice, LSU running back Nick Brossette gained just 96 yards rushing all of last season. Through two games this season, the senior from Baton Rouge has 262 yards on 41 carries for a 6.4 average. After gaining 125 yards on 22 carries in the Tigers’ 33-13 upset of Miami, Brosette gained 137 yards on 19 attempts in LSU’s 31-0 shutout of Southeastern Louisiana on Saturday. After a 50-yard run against Miami, Brosette had a 42-yard run last Saturday.

Through two games, Missouri wide receiver Emmanuel Hall has caught 14 passes for 342 yards. According to Dave Matter of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 13 of his 14 catches have gone for first downs.

Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt got his first win as a head coach when the Vols beat East Tennessee State 59-3 last Saturday. ETSU head coach and former UK offensive coordinator Randy Sanders did not have to make good on his vow to “walk home naked” if his team pulled off the upset.

SEC football games on Sept. 15

  • 12:00 - Murray State at Kentucky (SEC alternate)

  • 12:00 - UTEP at Tennessee (SEC)

  • 2:30 - Vanderbilt at Notre Dame (NBC)

  • 3:30 - LSU at Auburn (CBS)

  • 4:00 - Colorado State at Florida (SEC)

  • 4:00 - North Texas at Arkansas (SEC alternate)

  • 7:00 - Alabama at Ole Miss (ESPN)

  • 7:00 - Middle Tennessee at Georgia (ESPN2)

  • 7:30 - Louisiana at Mississippi State (SEC alternate)

  • 7:30 - UL-Monroe at Texas A&M (SEC)

  • 7:30 - Missouri at Purdue (Big 10)

  • 7:30 - Marshall at South Carolina (ESPNU)
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