Who’s improved the most in the SEC this season?
Who’s regressed the most?
Statistics don’t always tell the whole story, but they’re a good place to start.
Here’s a look:
South Carolina has made a huge jump offensively. The Gamecocks have gone from 102nd nationally last season in scoring offense to 47th nationally this season, improving their scoring average by almost 10 points per game. A year ago, they averaged 20.6 points, but are averaging 30.1 points heading into Saturday’s game against Troy. They scored just 31 touchdowns in 13 games last season. They already have 39 touchdowns in 10 games this season.
As well as Auburn ran the ball last season, the Tigers are running it even better this season with quarterback Cam Newton leading the SEC in rushing. Auburn is fourth nationally in rushing offense at 307.9 yards per game. The Tigers have 37 rushing touchdowns, which is second nationally to Nevada’s 40. Auburn averaged 212 yards on the ground last season, which means the Tigers have upped their rushing average by more than 95 yards per game. They’ve also scored 13 more rushing touchdowns than they did all of last season.
Arkansas’ defense is also right up there among the most improved units in the league. The Hogs have gone from 89th nationally last season in total defense to 31st heading into Saturday’s game at Mississippi State. The Hogs are allowing 329.7 yards per game, which is 71.5 yards fewer than they gave up per game a year ago.
Improved numbers don’t always lead to more wins, even when it’s turnover margin. Georgia was last in the SEC and 118th nationally last season in turnover margin at minus-16. This season, the Bulldogs lead the SEC in turnover margin at plus-8, yet have one fewer victory than they did this time a year ago.
Few teams in the SEC have gone south as decisively as Florida has on offense this season. The Gators finished sixth nationally a year ago in total offense with an average of 457.9 yards per game. They’re 84th nationally right now (and 10th in the SEC) in total offense with an average of 345.9 yards. That’s a drop-off of 112 yards per game.
The Gators’ passing game has been hit the hardest. They led the country last season in pass efficiency with a 163.7 rating, finishing with 28 touchdown passes and five interceptions. Through 10 games this season, they’re ranked 92nd nationally in pass efficiency and 10th in the SEC with a 119 rating. The Gators have thrown 10 touchdown passes and nine interceptions. In eight SEC games, starting quarterback John Brantley threw just four touchdown passes and seven interceptions.
The SEC team regressing the most defensively is Ole Miss. The Rebels finished last season ranked 15th nationally in scoring defense, allowing an average of 17.7 points per game. With two games to play this season, they’ve plummeted to 107th nationally in scoring defense, giving up an average of 34.8 points per game – 17.1 points more than they give up per game a year ago.
Vanderbilt’s defensive numbers have also dropped significantly. The Commodores are last in the SEC and 106th nationally in total defense, giving up an average of 437.2 yards per game. Last season, they were 56th nationally and allowed an average of 362.8 yards per game – a difference of 74.4 yards per game.