Fourteen thoughts from Week Six: That's the A&M we expected, Ed Orgeron's hot seat amidst LSU's injuries and more
Chris Lee • 10/11/2021 in Football
The Aggies looked like we thought they would, Alabama didn't and LSU's got a heap of issues.
Here are 14 thoughts on SEC football after an interesting Week Six.
Texas A&M controlled the lines of scrimmage in its upset over Alabama. Georgia’s defensive line gets a ton of attention, but after watching Saturday’s game, there's an argument A&M’s tandem Tyree Johnson, Jayden Peevy, Michael Clemons and DeMarvin Leal might be just as good. Those four put a lot of pressure on Alabama quarterback Bryce Young on Saturday. Meanwhile, the Aggie offensive line has taken a lot of deserved criticism, but perhaps that unit is gelling since Alabama didn’t register a sack all game.
We saw how good A&M’s skill players are in space, too. Isaiah Spiller—who’s one of the league’s best backs—had a bit of an off-night amidst being banged up, but Devon Achane and Ainias Smith have been headaches in space before and certainly were again; Smith caught two scores and Achane ran a kickoff back for a score. There might not collectively be a faster and more elusive players on any team in the league than A&M’s trio.
This isn’t vintage Alabama. Let’s not pull the curtain on the Crimson Tide’s title chances, but getting beaten in the trenches—and especially the lack of sacks against A&M’s line—are things that need to be fixed if the Crimson Tide want to make the College Football Playoff. Alabama’s highly-rated defensive backs also had issues in coverage on Saturday. Meanwhile, it's clear that the Crimson Tide receiving corps is nowhere near the high bar set by last year’s group, and drops were a big issue on Saturday. It’s unusual to see Alabama lose games, and more unusual to see Alabama lose them the way it lost on Saturday.
It’s Zach Calzada’s job behind center in College Station. Calzada (21-of-31, 285 yards, three TDs and one pick) played his best game of the season on Saturday. Remember, Calzada started the season behind the flashier Haynes King, but King’s now done for the season, and Caldada’s backup is a freshman walk-on.
Arkansas had 676 yards, 39 first downs and 51 points against Ole Miss… and lost. Saturday’s game in Oxford was the classic “last team to have the ball wins” matchup, though it didn’t materialize that way as the Razorbacks went for 2 on the game’s last play and were denied. Quarterback KJ Jefferson’s 411 yards of total offense (and six total touchdowns) put in a performance for the ages, but it wasn’t good enough because…
Ole Miss’s Matt Corral had an epic day on Saturday and re-established himself in the Heisman Trophy race. Corral threw for 287 yards (but more importantly, 13.7 per pass) and ran for another 94 on Saturday. That included touchdown passes of 68 yards to Braylon Sanders and 67 to Dontario Drummond, the one to Sanders coming with 1:07 left. It’s a wide-open Heisman race, and Corral’s shot may be as good as anybody’s if the Rebels can play enough defense to win.
Critical injuries are piling up for LSU. The Tigers were without All-American corner Derek Stingly Jr. in the loss at Kentucky, and he may be done for the year. On Monday, we learned wide receiver Kayshon Boutte is likely done for the year. Boutte was tied for the national lead with nine receiving touchdowns but didn’t catch one at Kentucky, though he did haul in eight catches for 73 yards. Unfortunately, that’s not all the bad news,as key defensive lineman Ali Gaye and Joseph Evans are also out for the Florida game, along with starting safety Major Burns. All three would have been starters.
Coach Ed Orgeron’s remaining tenure at LSU will probably be measured in weeks. Tiger fans spent their weekend on message boards and social media calling for Orgeron's dismissal, and the SEC Network's Paul Finebaum added this piece of reasoning as to why it'll be tough for Orgeron to survive the season.
Death, taxes and Georgia’s defense. By Georgia standards, the Bulldogs slipped a bit in allowing 10 points, 17 first downs and 318 total yards to Auburn on Saturday. Otherwise, it’s tough to come up with original material about the Bulldog defense, which leads the country in total defense (201.2, scoring defense (5.5) and fewest yards allowed per play (3.56). Cincinnati and Clemson (12.2) rank second in points per game, and that seems an insurmountable deficit at this point.
Tennessee’s not a Top 25 team, but the Vols have a chance to change that. Neither the AP nor the coaches found the Vols worthy of the Top 25 this week, though the computers didn't agree: Tennessee’s 14th in this week’s SP+ rankings, 23rd in ESPN’s FPI and Kenneth Massey’s ratings following a convincing 45-20 win over South Carolina. A home win over Ole Miss this week might get the Vols ranked, although Tennessee could get there and drop out pretty quickly with games to follow against Alabama, Kentucky and Georgia. Either way, the point is this: coach Josh Heupel has his team playing better than most expected and he deserves a lot of credit for that.
Kentucky’s running game is really hitting its stride. The Wildcats have a lethal tailback tandem in Chris Rodriguez Jr. and Kavosiey Smoke, who rushed for 147 ad 104 yards, respectively, in UK’s 42-21 win over LSU. Rodriguez has been remarkably consistent (at least 99 rushing yards in five games this season) and Smoke’s averaging 5.8 yards per carry. Add in quarterback Will Levis’s 163 rushing yards, and the ‘Cats can play the kind of physical, ball-control football that coach Mark Stoops loves.
Missouri’s Tyler Badie might mean as much to his team as any non-quarterback skill player in the SEC. Badie had his second 200-yard rushing game this season. Badie needed just 217 carries to rack up 217 rushing yards in Missouri’s 48-35 win over North Texas on Saturday. Badie has 104 of Missouri’s 170 rushing attempts that haven’t come for a quarterback and with 667 yards, is the only Tiger to rush for more than 200 yards.
Missouri’s defense continues to be dreadful. In its previous three games. North Texas had scored a total of 35 points between games against SMU, UAB and Louisiana Tech. The Tigers allowed 493 yards to North Texas on 75 snaps.
Vanderbilt’s lost its first two SEC games under Clark Lea by a combined 104-0. Let’s say something nice about the Commodores: They trailed Florida 21-0 at half but it could have easily been 21-13 had Joseph Bulovas hit two makable field goals and had a touchdown not controversially been wiped off the board. With that said, I’ve watched the ‘Dores two SEC games (the other came against Georgia) and the gap between Vanderbilt and the top of the league is as great as the scores indicate.