What We Learned from the SEC in Week 5 - Tucson News Now

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What We Learned from the SEC in Week 5

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LSU's Odell Beckham (3) is brought down by Georgia's Tray Mathews on Saturday. (Source: Georgia Athletics) LSU's Odell Beckham (3) is brought down by Georgia's Tray Mathews on Saturday. (Source: Georgia Athletics)
LSU's Jeremy Hill looks for running room against Georgia. (Source: Georgia Athletics) LSU's Jeremy Hill looks for running room against Georgia. (Source: Georgia Athletics)
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(RNN) – Southern Cal fired Lane Kiffin today and Ole Miss castoff Ed Orgeron was named interim head coach.

In other things that aren't surprising, Oregon hung 50 on somebody with a bad defense, politicians are acting stupid and your fantasy team is terrible.

Here is the weekly list of what we learned from watching SEC games in Week 5.

1. Mark Richt got replaced in the offseason. Do you actually expect me to believe Mark Richt won another big game? I don't. I won't. I can't.

Mark Richt must be a shape-shifter, or a Transformer, because he looks the same as he always did and sounds the same, but something is very different – he doesn't choke away close games against good teams now. He actually beat LSU 44-41.

I refuse to believe this is the same Mark Richt I've come to love.1 Old Mark Richt would have found a way to screw up clock management and hand LSU an easy win or let Aaron Murray throw an interception at the worst possible time or forget that you're allowed to stop the other team from scoring and let them march down the field for a game-winning touchdown or even let the Tigers go all Herman Edwards on the final play. He might have even found a way to lose that no one could've predicted.

New Mark Richt engineered a go-ahead scoring drive with under two minutes to play, covered all of LSU's receivers and got pressure on LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger to keep the Tigers from coming back, all while sealing a win over a higher-ranked team for the second time this season.

New Mark Richt is boring. He's also setting Georgia up for colossal failure either against Florida or in the SEC championship game.

2. Don't troll the Tide, because the Tide trolls back. Ole Miss hairdo/quarterback Bo Wallace said he felt the Rebels wouldn't have any trouble scoring against Alabama. A safety was as close as he came to backing that up, and that counts for something, right?

Wallace almost scored twice in a 25-0 loss to the Tide. Before he was tackled in the end zone on a read option run, Wallace was saved from an intentional grounding penalty in the end zone by being out of the pocket. In his defense, the Rebels' offense did get close to scoring their own points twice, too (more on this in a minute).

Alabama's defense is in bowl game form, and the Tide has gotten a non-offensive score in every game they've played so far this year. Ole Miss' stellar ground game was held to 46 yards, and Wallace, Scott, Moncrief, etc. were held to 205 total yards. Alabama's much-maligned offense outgained Ole Miss in rushing yards alone.

Ole Miss picked up 11 first downs after averaging 27 first downs in its first three games.

3. Johnny Football has turned into Johnny Hope This Gets Caught. For the second time this season, Johnny Manziel added a play to his highlight reel by lofting a pass he had no idea would be caught in the general direction of a guy who jumped over three defenders to catch it.

The touchdown to Mike Evans was the second touchdown for both players and only accounted for 7 of Manziel's 261 yards and Evans' 116 yards, and put the Aggies on top of Arkansas by 14 points – their largest lead in a 45-33 win.

Johnny Offense is getting the credit for the play because he is "Johnny Football" and everything he does is amazing, even when it isn't.2 He threw the ball, so yay for him, but he should not get the credit for it because the receiver was the star of the show. Like his play two weeks ago against Alabama, it didn't gain many yards, but at least this week's toss went for a touchdown – and the Aggies won the game.

If you have a receiver who is 6-foot-5, you should put that advantage to work, but you shouldn't just indiscriminately throw a ball and hope it lands in friendly hands. That is unsustainable. But, like all things in football, it's a good strategy if it works, and right now it's working.

4. Missouri might deserve its SEC membership. Did I really just say that? I must be going soft.

While "Johnny Football" was guiding A&M to it's, uh, rousing(?) win over Arkansas, Johnny Football Junior, aka James Franklin (player), was guiding Missouri to a, uh, rousing(?) win over Arkansas State. Franklin also doubled Johnny Offense's touchdown total.

Franklin threw for 255 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 33 yards and another touchdown and led a 41-19 come-from-behind win over the Red Wolves. Arkansas State held a lead late in the third quarter, and that's when Franklin went to work for the Tigers. He threw two touchdowns in the final five minutes of the game to put it out of reach.

Missouri is the only undefeated team in the SEC East, which would mean something if the Tigers had either a). played a conference game or b). played somebody respectable. We'll soon know if they are for real or not because four respectable opponents are lined up for the Tigers' next four games, and three of them are ranked.

5. Hugh Freeze can't count. Refer back to Ole Miss' offense having two chances to score. They were both squandered by failed fourth down conversion attempts in the red zone. A field goal in either of those situations erases the shutout, and a field goal in both would have cut the Tide's 16-0 deficit to 16-6 and made a comeback seem reasonable.

It was after the second squandered scoring attempt that the Rebels' offense fell apart. Wallace gave up the safety and later fumbled, which led to a late Alabama touchdown.

In all, the Rebels went for it on fourth down four times and converted one. It looked a little bit like Freeze thought he got five downs instead of four. Ole Miss entered the game 21-of-41 on third down and converted 4-of-14 against Alabama. The Rebels were also 5-of-8 on fourth down entering the game.

Again, it's a good strategy if it works, but unfortunately for the Rebels, it didn't work.

6. Zach Mettenberger is not a man. Before racing Georgia to 50, Les Miles said Mettenberger had to put aside all the distractions that come from trying to stick it to his mom's boss and described the game as a man-sized job.

History is written by the winners, and Mettenberger lost, so he's still in adolescence. Mettenberger, aka AJ McCarron Junior, had the opportunity to lead his team on a game-winning drive on the road much like McCarron did against Mettenberger's team last year, against Texas A&M earlier this season and in the SEC championship game last year against Georgia.

Mettenberger was not up to the moment on the final drive as his passes were off target, including a very poorly thrown ball on fourth down that ended the game. However, all hope is not lost for young Zach. He'll get another chance in November against McCarron himself.

Outside of the final drive, however, Mettenberger was everything he needed to be and more. He threw for 372 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions.

7. Tennessee is, ugh, I just don't know. The Volunteers were on their way to a good win over South Alabama, and then it all just went to crap. Quarterback Justin Worley threw three interceptions and the Jaguars cut a 31-7 lead down to 31-24, which was the final.

It was a much needed win for Tennessee, which was coming off losses to Oregon and Florida and now must face Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama in consecutive games.

8. Kentucky's best athlete is its kicker. Did you see Florida get taken for a ride by a kicker who is much faster than a kicker should be? It was hilarious.

Owing to his position on the field, Joe Mansour ran about 55 yards in 6 seconds. Kentucky might want to try him at wide receiver. He could play running back too because his 25-yard scamper was good enough to make him Kentucky's leading rusher. In fact, everybody not named Joe Mansour combined for 23 rushing yards.

Kentucky's offense gained a total of 150 non-Joe Mansour yards in a 24-7 loss to the Gators. Mansour also kicked the PAT and tied the game at 7 in the first quarter. Only three Kentucky players have more touchdowns this season than Mansour, and he has more touchdowns than Kentucky's leading rusher.

I really hope this isn't the last we see of him.

9. Arkansas is just good enough to scare you. I'm not sure if this is due to Arkansas' running game or Texas A&M's lack of defense, but the Razorbacks racked up 200 yards on the ground and Brandon Allen threw for 282 yards and a three touchdowns.3

But Allen also threw two interceptions and Arkansas was 5-for-12 on third down. Arkansas might make some noise against Florida, South Carolina, Alabama or LSU, but it doesn't appear good enough to seal the deal.

10. The targeting rule is stupid. Now that all the perfunctory making fun of people who lost is out of the way, it's time for a rant.

This new rule about ejecting players for "targeting" is perhaps the dumbest thing the NCAA has ever done. This is true for two reasons: 1. Nobody knows exactly what "targeting" is and 2. The ejection can be overturned on review, but the penalty can't.

Basically what happens is a referee sees something that he thinks might be illegal in some way and throws a flag for targeting, which is a 15-yard penalty and an automatic ejection of the penalized defender. Then the play gets reviewed. If the replay official determines it was not targeting, the player is allowed to stay in the game, but the penalty stands.

This is the only instance in any sport where the officials can use replay to realize they were wrong and not make it right. If the replay official says there was no targeting and the player can stay in the game, he's saying the penalty should not have been called, but the penalty stands no matter what the replay shows.

That's asinine.

I have seen many more ejections overturned by review than upheld. Just this week in the SEC, at least two ejections were overturned. It happened to Alabama against Ole Miss. It happened to South Carolina against Central Florida.

If the ejection occurs in the second half of the game, the player must sit out the first half of the next game. In the SEC this season, it happened to A&M against Rice, it happened to Auburn against Arkansas State, and it happened to Missouri against Toledo.

The inconsistency is one thing, but the more egregious problem is telling teams they didn't do anything wrong but they're going to be punished anyway, and that punishment might carry over to your next game.

FOX rules expert Mike Pereira, who is almost universally respected, has had some excellent weekly analysis of the rule, and he's firmly in the camp against it. In fact, no one seems to like the rule, and the only articles I was able to find in support of it, doesn't really support it.

The only defense the rule has is that it helps player safety. But if you're routinely overturning the call, that argument is immediately compromised because you're punishing legal hits, which means the defender will not see the need to change his behavior because he was exonerated.

Safety is obviously something that everyone should support, but anybody can make a rule that increases player safety.4 What you can't do, or at least what hasn't been done, is make a rule that increases player safety, makes sense and is easy to understand. The targeting rule fails at all three.

Extra points: 1And by love I mean hate on incessantly. It's one of the few things I'm truly good at, and this new Georgia coach has deprived me of the opportunity to perform at my highest level.

2I pulled this straight from ESPN's mission statement. The network may not admit to it, but it's without a doubt the opinion its broadcasters are taking on the air.

3The crazy Hog Lady even posted a video. But, sadly, she isn't singing and she doesn't even show up in it. It's just a video of an Arkansas touchdown taken by recording the TV with a cell phone. C'mon, LizHoney, you're better than that.

4Here's one: Eliminate all contact between players and end plays after four seconds. That was easy, and just as dumb as the targeting rule.

Copyright 2013 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

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