SEC Notebook: Declarations of Alabama’s demise premature
Alabama back among the elite, face a rebounding Arkansas team
They ain’t dead just yet.
Judging by Nick Saban’s comments on Monday, his team appeared to take the news of its demise personally in Saturday’s 38-10 dismantling of Georgia.
“I say the same thing as when y’all buried us last week,” Saban said. “It really doesn’t matter what you think, it really doesn’t matter what you say and I’m hoping that nobody on our team is playing for you. If it was up (the media), we’re six-feet under already. We’re dead and buried and gone. Gone.”
With Ole Miss falling to Florida, the path to winning the SEC West became that much easier for Alabama. However, the schedule still features a gauntlet of SEC challenges, starting this week as a revitalized Arkansas team comes to Tuscaloosa after securing its first SEC road win in the Bret Bielema era at Tennessee.
Only a point separated these two in 2014, as Alabama prevailed, 14-13. Bielema didn’t waver from praising the challenge at hand.
“Alabama is the staple of what SEC Football is all about. That environment is as good as any I have seen,” Bielema said Monday. “We all know their history of first-round picks, where they rank in recruiting. Alabama is very, very talented. When we are recruiting our top running backs, Alabama is always in there. We look for the same type back.”
While the Arkansas offense is known for its power running game, the Razorbacks rank fourth in the conference in passing offense. Considering Alabama leads the SEC – and ranks top 10 nationally – in rush defense, will the Hogs attempt to win the game through the air behind the arm of senior quarterback Brandon Allen?
In an interesting note, Arkansas offensive coordinator Dan Enos played under Saban during his tenure at Michigan State.
“Coach Saban was our DC my first two years at Michigan State. I don’t know if he remembers me,” Enos said. “I haven’t talked to him since he yelled at me as a scout team QB.”
If Enos helps guide Allen to a career-performance in Tuscaloosa, Saban will be sure to remember his name this time around.
Georgia and Tennessee both desperate for a win
The SEC East was anticipated to be a battle between Georgia and Tennessee, with the Oct. 10 showdown in Knoxville serving as the de facto divisional championship game. In reality, both teams currently find themselves looking up at Florida in the standings and are coming off devastating losses.
Winless two games into their conference slate, Tennessee is on the brink of being eliminated from division contention as Georgia travels to Neyland Stadium Saturday.
“I know everybody hurts. I hurt along with everyone, but just like in life, you have to get up,” Tennessee head coach Butch Jones said Monday. “In these times, you really find out who is with you and who is against you. You just write it down, put it in your back pocket and file it away for future reference. We are going to be fine. We have a resilient group of kids. We are going to continue to make progress and move forward.”
In the other corner, Georgia is tasked with getting up off the mat following a resounding home defeat suffered at the hands of Alabama. Only two weeks removed from setting the NCAA completion mark against South Carolina, starting quarterback Greyson Lambert threw for 86 yards, one interception and had a QBR of 2 against the Tide. Backup Brice Ramsey started the second half and completed more passes to Alabama (2) than his teammates (1).
Georgia head coach Mark Richt commented on his quarterback situation, saying, "We’re going to have to re-evaluate everything."
Considering the issues both teams have passing the ball – Tennessee ranks 11th in SEC in passing – expect this to be won on the ground, as Georgia ranks second and Tennessee third in the conference in rushing yards.
Of note this week:
LSU @ South Carolina – Can Leonard Fournette extend his SEC-record of consecutive 200-yard rushing performances to four on the road?
Florida @ Missouri – Missouri quarterback Maty Mauk will remain as true freshman Drew Lock will attempt to remain undefeated in his second career start.
Quick Hits: Florida’s odds to win the national championship moved to 50-1 after opening the season at 100-1…. Tennessee has given up the most plays of 30-plus yards (14) in the SEC, has its worst total defense (414 YPG) and is 12th in scoring D (24.6)….
Michael Wayne Bratton covers the SEC for FOX Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @MichaelWBratton