It’s been an eventful last few days within the Southeastern Conference, and not all of it’s been good. Chris Lee writes about that, and much more, in this week’s SEC football snapshot.
THIS WEEK’S STORYLINES
In a week of huge news across the college football landscape, the Monday night reports that Steve Spurrier is retiring immediately trumped all else. Spurrier did a phenomenal job at Florida and South Carolina, not to mention Duke, going 228-89-2 overall. His 131 SEC wins are second-most behind Bear Bryant; only two other coaches besides the pair have even won 100. He won one national title and six league titles. Four times, the AP named him the league’s Coach of the Year, and five times, he earned that honor from his league’s peers. Spurrier also won the Heisman Trophy in 1966 as Florida’s quarterback.
If you consider his combined coaching and playing record, one could argue that he’s the most significant figure in the history of SEC football. His quick wit will be missed, and it’s difficult to imagine the league without him.
If not for the spectacular season by LSU’s Leonard Fournette, Georgia’s Nick Chubb may have been the country’s top running back. Unfortunately, we’ll never know whether Chubb could’ve challenged Fournette by season’s end. On the first play of Georgia’s 38-31 loss at Tennessee, Chubb’s left leg twisted awkwardly, and the sophomore was taken to the locker room with what turned out to be a serious knee injury. The only good news is that his ACL is intact and that he’ll be back next year.
After losing all-world running back Todd Gurley in similar fashion a year ago, the Bulldogs must be wondering what they’re done to anger the football gods.
Grier suspended for a year
On Monday, Florida fans got bad news that hit almost as hard as what Georgia fans got on Saturday. The NCAA announced the suspension of quarterback Will Grier for a full calendar year for testing positive for a banned substance.
That could very much hurt the Gators, as Grier has thrown for 1,204 yards, 10 touchdowns and three interceptions, with a completion rate of almost 66 percent. He’ll be replaced by Treon Harris, who has completed 53.4 percent of his career throws for 1,288 yards, 11 touchdowns and four scores. Harris is a terrific athlete, but there’s little question that Grier gives UF the better passing option.
Don’t expect the NCAA to reduce the penalty. The Miami Herald reported that substance was Ligandrol, which, though not a steroid, is heavily used in the bodybuilding world.
The end is in sight for Tunsil
On Tuesday, the NCAA finally announced that Ole Miss left tackle Laremy Tunsil will be allowed to return for the Texas A&M game. That amounts to a seven-game suspension for the junior, whom many think is Ole Miss’s top player, who was sidelined for receiving various improper benefits.
That’ll be huge for the Rebels, who in Tunsil’s first game back will have their hands full with perhaps the best pair of defensive ends in the league in A&M’s Myles Garrett and Daeshon Hall, who have 16 sacks between them.
Who’s the QB at Auburn?
If head coach Gus Malzahn or offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee knows the answer to that question, neither was revealing it at Monday’s press conference. Redshirt freshman Sean White, and while he’s thrown for just 298 yards and no scores, he’s been picked just once, which is five picks fewer than former starter Jeremy Johnson had.
Johnson’s got the bigger upside—remember, he was touted as a serious Heisman Trophy candidate. It’s said that Johnson’s improved in practice, but the ability to read defenses and look off defenders in games has been lacking so far.
Stay tuned for another crazy chapter in another crazy year as the Tigers travel to Kentucky on Saturday.
- Alabama (5-1, 2-1): If ‘Bama wins in College Station, it’ll be tough to keep the Crimson Tide out of Atlanta.
- Florida (6-0, 4-0): If the season ended today, coach Jim McElwain might well be the national coach of the year.
- Texas A&M (5-0, 2-0): Aggies will go as far as the defense, now allowing 375 yards per game, will take them.
- Ole Miss (5-1, 2-1): QB Chad Kelly leads the league with 1,862 passing yards, over 300 more than the next competitor.
- LSU (5-0, 3-0): QB Brandon Harris hasn’t thrown a pick yet in his 89 attempts.
- Tennessee (3-3, 1-2): Vols get a week off before huge tilt with ‘Bama.
- Georgia (4-2, 2-2): In two weeks, Bulldog fans have gone from talking about a potential College Football Playoff appearance to firing coach Mark Richt.
- Mississippi St. (4-2, 1-2): Bulldogs still looking for a running game outside QB Dak Prescott.
- Arkansas (2-4, 1-2): The four teams to beat the Razorbacks have a combined three losses.
- Missouri (4-2, 1-2): Tigers lead the league in scoring defense (13.5).
- Kentucky (4-1, 2-1): Wildcats will try to beat Auburn for only the second time since 1966.
- Auburn (3-2, 0-2): Whoever the QB is, he’ll have a tougher time without WR Duke Williams.
- Vanderbilt (2-3, 0-2): Banged-up Commodores coming off a bye week at a great time.
- South Carolina (2-4, 0-4): It’s hard to imagine a coach trying to fill bigger shoes that Shawn Elliott will try to do.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
- Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU (119 carries, 1,022 yards, 8.8 YPC, 12 TDs rushing, 5-41-0 receiving)
- Dak Prescott, QB, MSU (118-of-182 passing, 1,353 yds., 8 TD/0 INT; 49-220-4.5-3 rushing)
- Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama (120 – 665 – 5.5 -10 rushing, 7-51 -0 receiving)
- Christian Kirk, WR, TAMU (32-519-4 receiving; 417 return yards, 1 TD)
- Alex Collins, RB, Arkansas (125-682-5.5-6 rushing, 4-22-0 receiving)
DEFENSE (tackles-sacks-tackles for loss-interceptions-forced fumbles)
- Myles Garrett, DE, TAMU (25 – 7.5 – 9.5 – 0 – 3; 1 blocked kick)
- Kentrell Brothers, LB, Missouri (74 – 0.5 – 4.5 – 2 – 0; 2 blocked kicks)
- Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama (50 – 1 – 2.5 – 0 – 2)
- Vernon Hargreaves, S, Florida (19 – 0 – 0 – 3 – 0)
- Robert Nkdemdiche, DT, Ole Miss (17 – 1.5 – 5.5 – 0 – 0)
THIS WEEK’S PICKS (46-12 overall, 22-26 vs. the point spread):