When you’re hot, you’re hot. When you’re not, you’re not …
Nothing like a little Jerry Reed to take us into this week’s Hot and Not in the SEC:
Jordan-Hare Stadium: There are a lot of places that rock around the SEC, and there are a lot of places around this conference that hold noise and make you feel like your ear drums are about to explode. But it’s that way from the opening kickoff at Auburn and only picks up steam from there. I’ve been to just about all the stadiums in the league the last few years, and I say with confidence that Jordan-Hare Stadium is as consistently loud and electric throughout the game as any stadium I’ve been to, and I think it’s gotten even more intense this season. When that crowd sensed blood in the fourth quarter last Saturday against Arkansas, even Toomer’s Corner was rocking several blocks away. They call it the Loveliest Little Village on the Plains, but there ain’t nothing lovely about it if you’re the other team.
Auburn quarterback Cameron Newton: He’s less than 150 yards away from becoming only the second quarterback in SEC history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. And with 13 passing touchdowns and 12 rushing touchdowns, he’s got a real shot at joining Tim Tebow in the 20/20 club.
Instant replay: Is it just me, or does it seem like in the SEC that the replay official’s definition of indisputable video evidence is different than everybody else’s? Arkansas got hosed on Mario Fannin’s fumble at the goal line. That ball was out before he crossed the goal line.
Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson: Yes, he threw those two late interceptions, but to come in and perform the way he did in that kind of environment tells you all you need to know about the Hogs’ sophomore backup. After Ryan Mallett went down, Wilson passed for 332 yards and four touchdowns against Auburn and kept the Hogs in the game.
Florida coach Urban Meyer: Let’s preface this by saying that Meyer is one of the best coaches in America. He’s won two of the past four national championships. That said, there’s no way the Gators should be this bad on offense with the way they’ve recruited the past few years. They have backups on offense who would be starting for a lot of other teams in this league.
Mississippi State’s running game: The Bulldogs, third in the SEC in rushing offense, went old school on the Gators last Saturday night in the Swamp. They ran the ball over and over again and made the Gators like it.
Arkansas’s defense/special teams: There were positive signs, lots of them, for Willy Robinson’s defense. Arkansas genuinely looked like a much improved defensive football team for the first five games. That all changed last Saturday in the 65-43 loss to Auburn. The Hogs gave up 470 yards in total offense, including 330 rushing yards. John L. Smith’s special teams were equally bad. The Hogs gave up a 99-yard kickoff return, had a punt blocked and were repeatedly tackled short of the 20-yard line on kickoff returns.
Kentucky quarterback Mike Hartline: Have you noticed who owns the best touchdown-to-interception ratio in the SEC? It’s Hartline, who is having a terrific senior season with 13 touchdown passes and only three interceptions. He’s shown tremendous resolve throughout his career at Kentucky.
Auburn’s pass defense: In a word, it stinks. Making matters worse, the Tigers are losing some players to injury in the secondary, too, and will have even less experience on the field against LSU. Auburn is 108th nationally against the pass and was shredded for 428 passing yards and five touchdown passes last week against Arkansas. That’s going to get them sooner or later if they don’t start covering somebody.
South Carolina’s secondary: Stopping somebody’s passing game is a two-way street. You have to get pressure on the quarterback, and you have to cover somebody. The Gamecocks got decent pressure on Kentucky’s Hartline last week and knocked him around some. The problem was they didn’t cover anybody. How many tackles can you miss back there? How many bad angles can you take? How many busted assignments can you make? Randall Cobb was so open on the game-winning touchdown that he had time to rip the fair-weather Kentucky fans on Twitter before he even caught the pass. But back to the South Carolina secondary, which isn’t short on talent. Depth might be a concern, but talent isn’t. The Gamecocks are ranked last in the SEC (and 110th nationally) in pass defense. They’re making Auburn’s pass defense look good right now, and that’s saying something.