Five things we learned after Week Four in the SEC:
1--Benny Snell talked. And then he backed it up. But defense was the difference in Kentucky’s win over No. 14 Mississippi State.
You have to give props to Benny Snell, Kentucky’s junior running back. In the days leading up to Saturday night’s big game with Mississippi State, Snell predicted he and the Wildcats would be able to run the football against the Bulldogs’ vaunted defensive front, which includes future pros Montez Sweat and Jeffery Simmons.
Snell ran for 165 yards and four touchdowns in a 28-7 win that wasn’t that close.
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“He’s a great running back,” said Simmons after the game. “I told my teammates he backed everything he said up.”
Snell now has 39 career touchdowns, breaking Randall Cobb’s school record of 37.
But Kentucky dominated because the defense, led by future pro Josh Allen, held Mississippi State and Nick Fitzgerald to only 201 total yards and only 53 in the second half.
Kentucky (4-0, 2-0 SEC), which is undefeated at this point for the first time since 1977, hosts South Carolina on Saturday.
“We’re here. We’re letting everybody know we’re not going anywhere,” said Allen.
2--Tennessee is in trouble. And it’s going to get worse before it gets better:
It was not the best of evenings at Neyland Stadium for Tennessee’s football team and its first-year coach, Jeremy Pruitt. Being dominated (47-21) by a very average Florida team is bad enough, but in the course of the game Pruitt:
**--Was flagged by officials for unsportsmanlike conduct.
**--Was shown on national television kicking a white board.
**--Had a player, Quarte’ Sapp, refuse to go into the game and subsequently the head coach would ask the player to leave the premises. Sapp now disputes that he declined to enter the game which, of course, only makes things worse.
Now, you can spin this and say Pruitt’s actions were that of a coach who saw his team commit six turnovers and is not going to settle for mediocrity. Or you can say it was the actions of a first-year head coach that lost his cool.
Regardless, the schedule says it’s going to get worse before it gets better. The Volunteers (2-2, 0-1) go to No. 2 Georgia on Saturday and, after a week off, play at Auburn, home to Alabama, and at South Carolina.
3—Now we are surprised when Tua throws an incomplete pass:
Alabama (4-0, 2-0) beat a ranked team at home (No. 22 Texas A&M) 45-23. The Crimson Tide’s splendid quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa, completed 22 of 30 passes for a career-high 387 yards and four touchdowns.
On the season Tagovailoa has completed 72.5 percent of his passes for 1,033 yards, 12 touchdowns and ZERO interceptions. Alabama leads the SEC and is third nationally in scoring offense (53.8 ppg).
People (and I’m one of them) are starting to say that this could be the best offense Coach Nick Saban has ever had.
It’s gotten to the point where Saban is asking the media to point out the flaws in his offense. Example: Saban was not happy that with a big lead his team couldn’t just grind out the clock in the fourth quarter.
“So, I'd appreciate if you (the media) would sorta look at some of the things we didn't do so well and write about that so maybe I can show it to some of the players and say 'Look here, man. Here's something you can do better,’” Saban said as he wrapped up his post-game press conference.
He was kidding. At least I think he was kidding.
4—It’s probably not a good idea to challenge South Carolina to a street fight:
Vanderbilt Coach Derek Mason showed up for his regular press conference last week and promised a “street fight” when his team hosted South Carolina on Saturday.
“This isn’t a sanctioned fight. This a street fight. This is the SEC. It’s time to put on the hard hat, (grab) the lunch pail and get to work,” he said.
According to The State newspaper of Columbia, the South Carolina team pulled up to Vanderbilt Stadium and saw buses with “Street Fight” signs on them.
South Carolina ran for 273 yards and easily won the game in a knockout, 37-14.
“We heard about it and yeah, we took it personally,” quarterback Jake Bentley told The State. “He called us out to come fight and we did.”
Mason, whose team had taken Notre Dame to the wire before losing 22-17 the week before, faced the music after the game.
“They won the street fight. There was no doubt about that,” Mason said. “When you don’t land any punches you can get knocked out.”
You know what? South Carolina is going to be in an even bigger street fight on Saturday when the Gamecocks (2-1, 1-1) go to Kentucky.
5—Georgia’s Deandre Baker is quickly becoming one of the SEC’s best lock-down corners:
Baker, a senior from Miami, made no secret of the fact that he wanted to cover Missouri’s Emmanuel Hall, who was the SEC’s leading receiver (18 catches, 430 yards) going into Saturday’s game at Columbia, Mo.
When it was over Georgia had won 43-29. Hall had been held to exactly zero catches.
Two weeks before Hall held South Carolina’s Deebo Samuel to only six catches for 33 yards, none more than 10 yards.
“Every week I look forward to going against the top receiver on the top receiver on the opposite team,” Baker told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Throughout the week we hadn’t really talked about it, but it was a game-time decision.”
It was also a good decision.
Baker’s shut down of Hall played a big role in holding Missouri quarterback Drew Lock to 221 yards passing (23 of 48), which was 130 yards below his average.