SEC Midseason Biggest Surprises
They … beat … Florida.
Start with breaking a curse more than three decades long, and it was already an amazing season for the Wildcats. But they were great against Mississippi State, stuffed South Carolina, and pushed Texas A&M into overtime on the road.
And that was the tough part of the schedule.
There’s still no passing game, but Benny Snell and the ground game have been special, and the defense has been amazing. They don’t play Alabama or LSU, and they get Georgia at home. Now, the idea of running the table over the second half of the season and going off to the SEC Championship isn’t totally insane.
No way, no how did you see this start coming.
Pat on back time here, but we called the LSU win over Miami, but at Auburn? Nah.
Beating SE Louisiana, Louisiana Tech, and even Ole Miss was expected, but to be 5-1 at this point is beyond what Tiger fans could’ve reasonably have hoped for.
There’s still a ton of work to be done – Georgia, Mississippi State, Alabama, and at Texas A&M are still there to deal with – but at least LSU is expected to be competitive, if not win some of those, too.
3. Florida QB Felieipe Franks
He’s been good enough, and that’s enough.
No one’s calling Franks another Tebow or Wuerffel, but considering Kyle Trask was deep in the hunt for the starting job this offseason, and with a rocky 2017 season fresh in everyone’s minds, the Gator quarterback situation hasn’t been a problem.
There are still accuracy issues, but he’s running a bit, he’s working within the system, and he’s not screwing up, with 13 touchdown passes and just four interceptions so far.
Florida has the coaching, the defense, and the ground game. As long as Franks is decent, he’s getting the job done.
SEC Midseason Biggest Disappointments
1. The Arkansas Offense
There was some tweaking that had to be done to shift out from the Bret Bielema era, but the one thing Chad Morris was supposed to be able to do from Day One at Arkansas was crank up the offense.
Instead, it’s sputtering, its coughing, and it can’t find any semblance of a rhythm. It’s currently dead last in the SEC in scoring, the passing game isn’t making up for the SEC’s worst rushing attack, and the 14 giveaways are the most in the conference.
Again, give it time, but the Hogs were supposed to have one of those offenses that was a differentiating factor right away, and it’s not.
2. The Auburn Offense
Oh, COME ON … You’re AUBURN.
This is supposed to be an unstoppable machine, with an NFL-caliber quarterback in Jarrett Stidham, a few solid backs who should be able to rumble in this attack, and …
It’s really, really not working.
Auburn is struggling to move the chains, awful on third downs, and it’s only averaging 364 yards per game. A Gus Malzahn-coached team shouldn’t be 117th in the nation in third down conversions and behind Florida, South Carolina and Kentucky in yards and scoring. The O line hasn’t been good enough, the skill guys aren’t getting the job done, and it’s been too much of a struggle.
3. West Virginia 40, Tennessee 14
It actually wasn’t that big a shocker, but there’s one reason why this matters to the SEC – Arkansas aside, that’s about it in terms of the non-conference misfires.
From LSU rolling over Miami, to Alabama destroying Louisville, to Auburn getting by Washington, to Missouri winning at Purdue, to Mississippi State rolling through Kansas State, to Ole Miss outbombing Texas Tech, to giving Texas A&M a break in pushing Clemson very, very hard, the SEC has been magnificent.
Except when the Tennessee program had to deal with Will Grier again.