Five Things We Learned about SEC Football in Week 3:
1—Here is the REALLY scary part about the Alabama offense—they are only going to get better:
Remember that we previously told you in this space that with Tua Tagovailoa pulling the trigger, this could be the best offense that Nick Saban has ever had. Well, the Crimson Tide made it look easy on Saturday in beating Ole Miss at Oxford, 62-7. It could have been a whole lot more.
Alabama became the first team in SEC history (and that goes back to 1933) to score 50 points or more in its first three games to start a season.
[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]
Ole Miss provides a wonderful game day atmosphere and, for a normal team, Saturday would have been daunting for the visitors. But after giving up a long touchdown pass on the first place from scrimmage, Alabama brushed it all aside and scored 62 unanswered points. It was 49-7 at halftime.
So I guess it’s fair to say that this “rebuilding” team passed its first SEC road test.
“I’m going to have to give us a good grade in all those areas,” Saban said about how his team handled the atmosphere. “I was pleased.”
If you’re a future opponent of Alabama and that kind of optimism from Saban doesn’t scare you I don’t know what will.
Texas A&M (2-1) is next on Saturday in Tuscaloosa (3:30 p.m., CBS).
2—It’s about time to give Ed Orgeron the respect he deserves:
Rightly or wrongly, any preseason discussion about coaches on the hot seat would eventually get around to the gravely-voiced head man of the LSU Tigers. That’s what happens when you lose at home to Troy who, by the way, went to Nebraska on Saturday and took down another big boy.
But let’s look at what Orgeron and his team have accomplished SINCE losing to Troy in 2017:
**--Gone 9-2. The losses were to No. 1 Alabama (24-10) and in the Citrus Bowl against No. 14 Notre Dame (21-17).
**--Beaten three Top 10 teams (Auburn twice, and Miami).
**--Gone 7-1 in SEC play (only loss to No. 1 Alabama).
**--His program needed a quarterback and he found an upgrade in Joe Burrow from Ohio State, who was rock solid in the drive to set up the winning field goal against Auburn on Saturday. He needed a place kicker and found one at tiny Assumption College. Cole Tracy kicked a 42-yard field goal on the last play of the game to give LSU a 22-21 win.
People like to make fun of Coach O’s voice and the fact that he ends every interview with “Geaux Tigers.” All I know is that he took his team into a place where Auburn had not lost in almost two years (13-game winning streak) and, as a 10 ½-point underdog, won the game. If that ain’t coaching I don’t know what is.
3—Every SEC West game this season—with the possible exception of those involving Arkansas—is going to be must-see TV:
Auburn-LSU is just the beginning. After what we’ve seen think about these games coming up:
**--LSU has home games remaining with Ole Miss (Sept. 29), Mississippi State (Oct. 26), and Alabama (Nov. 3). Georgia from the SEC East arrives on Oct. 6.
**--Alabama’s home schedule includes Texas A&M (Saturday), Mississippi State (Nov. 10), and Auburn (Nov. 24).
**--Texas A&M at Auburn, Nov. 3
**--Mississippi State gets Auburn (Oct. 6) and Texas A&M (Oct. 27) at home.
**--LSU at Texas A&M, Nov. 24.
I’m sure I left some good ones out but you get the picture.
4—We better start paying attention to Georgia’s Mecole Hardman:
Hardman was the SEC’s leading punt returner last season, averaging 11.8 yards per return. But in Georgia’s first three games it looks like he is rounding into one of the best all-purpose players in the SEC.
Two weeks ago against South Carolina Hardman had six catches for 106 yards, including a 34-yard touchdown where he simply ran away from everybody. On Saturday against Middle Tennessee State he had a five-yard touchdown catch plus a 70-yard punt return for another score. He finished the game with over 100 all-purpose yards.
In just three games he has caught 12 passes for 187 yards and three touchdowns.
Hardman came to Georgia as one of the best overall athletes in the Bulldogs 2016 signing class. He played defensive back that season and was moved to wide receiver and punt returner last season. Not saying this guy is or should be in the Heisman race. Just watch him.
5—It’s going to be a long, long season at Arkansas:
Before the season I was on Bo Mattingly’s radio show in Arkansas and was asked what the Hogs could do to surprise me.
I said: “Go 6-6.”
Some of my Arkansas friends didn’t appreciate the sentiment and they really didn’t like it when I projected the Hogs to go 0-8 in SEC play the first season under Chad Morris.
But trust me. While I had questions about Arkansas I didn’t see this coming.
After blowing an 18-point lead at Colorado State the week before, the Razorbacks had an awful game against North Texas State losing 44-17. Three different quarterbacks combined to throw six interceptions. Arkansas got tricked on a 90-yard kick return for a touchdown.
Arkansas (1-2) was counting on its non-conference schedule to give them a leg up toward a bowl. Now the real season starts with Auburn, Texas A&M, Alabama and Ole Miss over the four weeks.
“It starts here with me,” Morris said when asked about what happens next. “We will self-reflect.”
But all the self-reflection in the world can’t make up for a struggling offensive line and well below average quarterback play.