It was injured quarterback week in the SEC or, more simply, Week 3. Let’s take a look at what we learned:
1. Alabama is the class of college football: Nobody has forgotten about LSU. The Tigers’ time will come. But for now, the college football throne belongs to Alabama, which destroyed Arkansas 52-0 on Saturday. The Crimson Tide aren’t perfect. They’re just as close as it gets in the college ranks. Four of their five starting offensive linemen will be high NFL draft picks. AJ McCarron is easily the most talented quarterback Nick Saban has had at Alabama, and even though most of the faces are new on defense, this is still the same grind-your-nose-into-the-ground unit that Alabama has put on the field each of the past few seasons. The Crimson Tide are even drilling 51-yard field goals now. There’s a lot of football left to be played this season, but it’s going to take somebody’s best effort (and then some) to take down the Tide. The team best equipped to play that kind of game is sitting right there in the Western Division. Could it be that we see two rounds of Alabama versus LSU again this season? The rest of the country might want to brace itself.
2. Florida sets sights on East: That’s two SEC road victories in as many weeks for the Gators at two tough places to play. There’s no question that this is a tougher team, more complete team than a year ago. In three games this season, Florida hasn’t allowed any fourth-quarter points. Meanwhile, the Gators are running the ball effectively on offense, finishing games on that side of the ball, and quarterback Jeff Driskel is growing up by the week. Give the staff some credit, too. That’s two weeks in a row that the Gators have made key defensive adjustments at halftime. These guys are for real in the East race, and most of their toughest games remaining are in the Swamp.
3. Porous defenses: What’s happened to some of the defenses in this league? Yes, Alabama and LSU are still a load on that side of the ball. But when you look around at what’s transpired the first three weeks, in particular this past week, there are more than a few defenses in the SEC that need a serious face-lift. In no real order, Auburn has given up 1,326 yards of total offense and is lucky it’s not 0-3. Of course, a year ago at this time, the Tigers had given up more than 1,600 yards of total offense. Arkansas has given up 110 points in three games, and keep in mind that two of those games were against Jacksonville State and Louisiana-Monroe. Tennessee got into the act on Saturday, too, and was gashed for 336 rushing yards by Florida. The Vols allowed two scoring plays of 75 yards or longer. And then there’s Ole Miss, which was trounced 66-31 by Texas and gave up 676 yards of total offense. The 66 points were the most Ole Miss has allowed in a game since Sewanee scored 69 in 1917.
4. The Hogs are teetering: Some might argue that the Hogs have already gone over the edge this season. The 52-0 loss to Alabama was bad enough. If you ever wanted to see what it looks like when a team quits, go watch the tape from Saturday’s rain-soaked game in Fayetteville. Tyler Wilson did his best to step forward and be a leader after the game, but there’s no guarantee that he’ll be back next week against Rutgers. A concussion kept Wilson out of the Alabama game, and without him the Hogs are a bottom-tier SEC team. Back in the preseason, coach John L. Smith joked that he just wanted to make sure he didn’t screw it up. Well, that ship has sailed. We’ll see what’s left of it to salvage.
5. Quarterback controversies: Hold on tightly at the quarterback position. Austyn Carta-Samuels got his first start for Vanderbilt in the Commodores’ 58-0 mauling of Presbyterian. Jordan Rodgers didn’t play at all. Afterward, coach James Franklin said nothing was set in stone on who would be the starter against Georgia. The Vandy quarterbacks weren’t talking, either, because they weren’t made available to the media. It also sounds like South Carolina could be juggling quarterbacks down the road. Imagine that. ... Steve Spurrier is playing more than one quarterback. Starter Connor Shaw aggravated his shoulder injury against UAB, and backup Dylan Thompson again played well. The quarterback situation at Missouri could also get interesting. Is this still James Franklin’s team? Even more pressing, how healthy is Franklin’s shoulder?