Connor O’Gara | 3 hours previously

You would possibly want to perchance furthermore silent learn things from Cake Week.

Over again, I call it Cake Week as against Cupcake Week because I mediate the SEC desires a rebranding. Cupcakes aren’t straightforward to devour, or no longer lower than I idea. I had about a listeners of The Saturday Down South Podcast part with me, a bearded man, that how that you just can furthermore devour a cupcake is to lower the cake share in half, and then station one layer on prime to make an icing sandwich. It modified my life.

I realized one thing this week.

Right here’s what I realized about true football things in the midst of Cake Week:

Alabama — Bryce Younger isn’t having any of your ‘insensible’ Heisman dialogue

All Younger did on Saturday became as soon as wreck a 52-year-frail Alabama narrative for passing yards in a game and assign with the 2nd-most passing yards ever by an SEC QB. No sizable deal. Right one other day on the place of job for the Heisman favorite. On a day in which CJ Stroud made his biggest case in Ohio Impart’s rout of Michigan Impart, Younger became as soon as close to glorious. Excluding a disagreeable sack he took in the crimson zone, he became as soon as in entire put off an eye on. He delivered 2 glorious deep passes to Jameson Williams, 1 of which became as soon as dropped in a bucket against double protection.

I mean, here is silly.

Proper Lord, Bryce Younger.

— Connor O’Gara (@cjogara) November 20, 2021

If no longer for a fumble by Cameron Latu on the map line, Younger would’ve accomplished with 6 touchdown passes against a revered Arkansas protection. His ability to sense stress and elevate time is 2nd to none. That, we already knew. But searching at him proceed to develop with his accuracy and idea of the offense is what’s taking his game to the subsequent stage. That is by no formula a classic Alabama protection/offensive line/secondary, however Younger is by hook or by crook exceeding the hype.

Salvage him and Will Anderson Jr. to New York.

Arkansas — The days of getting their enamel kicked in are over

These are Sam Pittman’s words, and howdy, they’re true enough for me, too. Even in the midst of a 7-3 launch, we had been silent questioning what Arkansas became as soon as gonna see take care of against a primary-5 crew after how rapid the Georgia game got out of hand. In opposition to Alabama? KJ Jefferson, Treylon Burks and that Arkansas crew true kept combating. It’s one aspect to gash to the wire against Mississippi Impart or LSU. It’s one other to assign that against Alabama.

And as crazy because it sounds on a day in which Younger became as soon as ideal, I if fact be told didn’t mediate the protection gave up by any stretch. Montaric Brown had that strip and recovery when it regarded take care of Alabama became as soon as about to determine on up it a 2-touchdown game. That’s what he has been doing all year. Tre Williams kept battling with a 3-man escape, Grant Morgan became as soon as in the backfield, and Hayden Henry became as soon as again getting from sideline to sideline.

Burks, on the side of so mighty of the Arkansas protection, is most regularly long gone at season’s discontinuance, however that felt take care of a foundation game for Pittman’s crew. Jefferson true earned himself a entire bunch of offseason hype for how effectively he showed out against the Tide. What a feat by Pittman to slim the gap so rapid between Arkansas and the class of the SEC West.

Auburn — TJ Finley’s first launch at Auburn became as soon as _______

Not an discontinuance to those 2nd-half woes. At all. About a of that became as soon as on him with his incapacity to address stress, which we saw at LSU, and some of that became as soon as on the game opinion. Mike Bobo and Bryan Harsin failed down the stretch. It’s as easy as that. With 5 minutes left in a 4-point game, Bobo known as 4 plays, and none of them had been to Tank Bigsby, who became as soon as ideal-wanting when given the assorted. But then on 4th and 8 from their very possess 38 with 3: 30 to play, Harsin elected for a punt.

Thanks to that controversial overturn on the muffed punt, Auburn by no formula got the ball wait on. Finley by no formula got an more than just a few for a behind drag-ahead pressure, though given the procedure in which Bobo had known as that game, how mighty religion could perchance presumably you are going to need had in him? In Auburn’s ideal 4 2nd halves, Auburn’s offense:

  • A) Scored 12 entire capabilities
  • B) Scored on 3 of 22 drives
  • C) 3 fumbles, INT, overlooked FG
  • D) Change into ball over on downs twice
  • E) All the above

It’s “E.” It’s repeatedly “E.”

Harsin went from being an SEC Coach of the Year candidate to losing 3 in a row with 2 blown double-digit leads. Life comes at you rapid in this league.

Florida — Dan Mullen’s nightmare is mighty from over

Plug figure that Florida’s protection if fact be told showed up after taking ideal week off. This week, in a game that became as soon as sitting there for the taking, Mullen chanced on a unusual map to lose. A stroll-off 2-point conversion in extra time became as soon as … unusual. And telling. It became as soon as a ideal wanting call from Eli Drinkwitz, however let’s take into legend why Florida became as soon as in that station in the foremost station. Mullen clearly didn’t belief Emory Jones to determine on up plays. This tells you all you need to always know.

Doubtlessly coaching for his job, Dan Mullen punted on fourth-and-inches, kicked a discipline map on fourth-and-2, and willfully let the game drag to OT as a substitute of searching to movement the ball 35 yards into FG station with over a minute left.

— Invoice Connelly (@ESPN_BillC) November 21, 2021

And here’s the aspect. If your protection of that is “effectively, the offense became as soon as struggling in the crimson zone and the protection became as soon as taking part in effectively,” take into legend this. Mullen has a quarterback in Year 4 in his system, and he silent has no religion in him in these spots. And did it label him? Possibly. If he goes aggressive there and Jones throws a wait on-breaking interception in the final minute, that comes wait on to Mullen, too.

He’s now 2-9 in his ideal 11 against Energy 5 opponents, he’s 0-7 in 1-collect games in the ideal 2 years, and in 2021 he went 2-6 against SEC opponents, which became as soon as the Gators’ worst convention narrative since growth in 1992. Florida went from putting around with Alabama and feeling extremely encouraged to being a 5-6 crew in need of a rob against Florida Impart true to compose a bowl berth. How the mighty like fallen.

Georgia — George Pickens is no longer lower than dressing again

I became as soon as questioning if we had been going to see that on Saturday. As The Athletic’s Sam Emerson reported, Pickens dressed for the 1st time all year. Flexibility with roster measurement — in comparison with 70 gamers on the touring roster — allowed for that to happen. Pickens didn’t play, however that’s no longer lower than the foremost step in getting him wait on for the postseason after he tore his ACL in spring camp.

Would no longer remember this a signal Pickens will play, as here’s a home non-conf. game and extra flexibility on what number of can dress. But Pickens is running routes with diversified receivers in warmups. So one other certain signal going in direction of.

— Seth Emerson (@SethWEmerson) November 20, 2021


— Jeff Sentell (@jeffsentell) November 20, 2021

Some skeptics could perchance presumably screech that Pickens’ lack of rapport with Stetson Bennett could perchance presumably furthermore silent cap any optimism about him taking the passing game to the subsequent stage. It’s a ideal point pondering that Pickens didn’t if truth be told purchase off till JT Daniels became the starter. However the variation is that Bennett has been distinctive on deep passes this year. Entering the weekend, Pro Football Focal point had Bennett because the nation’s most true passer on throws of 20-plus yards. Even though Pickens isn’t a bonafide WR1 from the soar when he returns, he’s going so that you just would possibly want to well add one thing this offense lacked as any individual who can rob 50-50 battles. That’s a frightening idea.

Kentucky — Chris Rodriguez’s large year continues to be a ‘yeah, however’

As in, “Yeah, however he can’t put off onto the football.” Once extra, Rodriguez coughed it up in costly vogue. As an more than just a few of waltzing in for his 2nd touchdown of the day, he got the ball poked out from in the wait on of him. For the 6th time this year, Rodriguez fumbled. For the third time this year, he fumbled interior the 5. That’s wild.

It’s too disagreeable, because from an overall manufacturing standpoint, Rodriguez is having the true year Kentucky followers had been awaiting. He came into Saturday over 1,000 yards, with an outside shot at this system’s single-season speeding narrative (1,600 yards). The yards after contact are there, and he falls forward as effectively as somebody in the country. The converse? For whatever reason, it true appears take care of when he’s combating for additonal yards, he lets his guard down. It’ll be the knock on Rodriguez when he leaves for the subsequent stage.

Rodriguez’s fumbling points were a microcosm for this 2021 Kentucky offense. In many ways, Liam Coen’s transformation has yielded very ideal outcomes. It became as soon as a 56-point performance, so we’re nitpicking moderately here. But a crew that became as soon as -13 in turnover margin getting into Saturday — and became as soon as by hook or by crook 7-3 — had 2 extra turnovers against a 1-rob New Mexico Impart squad. Yet silent, it clinched rob No. 8. Right out of the ordinary.

LSU — Garrett Nussmeier is redshirting, which formula I have not any idea what to determine on up of this QB subject

Nussmeier is it sounds as if taking ideal thing regarding the 4-game redshirt rule. It’s miles nice in a ability. Why burn a year of eligibility whereas you happen to don’t know ought to you’re going to be initiating in your next coach? But on the identical time, why, then, did he opt up such necessary work ideal week against Arkansas? It’s out of the ordinary. All of us know that Myles Brennan entered the switch portal, Finley is obviously long long gone and Max Johnson is the true diversified scholarship quarterback currently on the roster.

Johnson hasn’t been the converse with this LSU crew, so it became as soon as abnormal to see him purchase the heat he did amidst LSU’s struggles. But now, he’s likely going to be locked in a opponents with Nussmeier, on the side of any ability switch that a unusual coach brings in. I articulate true take care of ideal year, Johnson will opt up an more than just a few to entire the season and mark a unusual offensive coordinator.

Mizzou — Eli Drinkwitz gets his ‘how assign you take care of me now’ game finally!

I became as soon as awaiting it. You understand. Drinkwitz’s “how assign you take care of me now” 2d. He’s got that now.

What a call it became as soon as by Drinkwitz to head for the two-point conversion there AND to achieve the throwback hide hide. If Drinkwitz comes up short, he gets blasted for no longer giving the ball to Tyler Badie. As an more than just a few, Badie became as soon as the decoy, and Connor Bazelak’s roller-coaster day ended on a excessive with a stroll-off rob to clinch bowl eligibility.

Final year, Drinkwitz’s “how assign you take care of me now” game came early against LSU. This year, it became as soon as against a Florida crew that dominated ideal year at The Swamp. Oh, and Mullen could perchance presumably furthermore or could perchance presumably furthermore no longer like started a brawl and then pulled out his Darth Vader costume for Halloween in the postgame presser. So naturally, Drinkwitz had the sunshine saber and hoody ready to roll.

THIS is the true model of Drinkwitz. Improbable.

MIC DROP from #Mizzou football coach Eli Drinkwitz after beating Florida in OT! 😂

“Would possibly well well presumably also the force be with you.”

— Andrew Kauffman (@AndrewABC17) November 21, 2021

MSU — Will Rogers’ rise into the narrative books reached a unusual stage

I’m frail enough to be acutely conscious a time when MSU couldn’t block a 3-man drag escape, and we couldn’t if truth be told request Mike Leach’s offense to see the percentage against a lesser opponent. Extra efficient occasions, these are. Now, Rogers is all about pitch and rob. Oh, and he’s all about breaking Dak Prescott’s records. Possibly it became as soon as inevitable when Leach signed on to be MSU’s head coach, nonetheless it took till Year 2 for his signal-caller to develop into this system’s single-season narrative holder for passing touchdowns and passing yards.

That’s no longer to purchase faraway from Prescott’s numbers (29 touchdown passes and 3,793 yards in 2015), however let’s be exact. Rogers became as soon as repeatedly going to break them. The precise search recordsdata from now is how mighty Rogers will separate himself. He’s at 4,113 yards and 34 touchdown passes with 2 games left. It’s no longer crazy to mediate he could perchance presumably hit 5,000 yards and 40 touchdown passes. Right for moderately of point of view? Gardner Minshew had 4,779 yards and 38 touchdown passes in the midst of his breakout season with Leach at Washington Impart in 2018. Rogers is necessary of nationwide praise for the year he’s having.

Ole Leave out — Matt Corral’s ideal home game became as soon as … a slog

Lane Kiffin himself acknowledged in a while that Ole Leave out’ offense didn’t assign what it became as soon as presupposed to assign. He’s precise. In Corral’s final home game earlier than he heads off to the NFL, there became as soon as a actually easy opinion — opt up a sizable lead early and leisure the starters with a short week coming up. As an more than just a few, Ole Leave out became as soon as taking part in its starters if truth be told your entire game since it couldn’t put off its foot on the gas against Vandy. The running game struggled to determine on up going, and despite what the final amount acknowledged for Vandy, Ole Leave out true couldn’t opt up off the discipline on third down. Corral even made an uncharacteristically disagreeable learn on a crimson-zone rob.

On the out of the ordinary aspect, Ole Leave out locked up its 1st unbeaten home assign since 1992. Corral didn’t appear to irritate his ankle anxiety, so that became as soon as a rob. And ahead of the Egg Bowl, yeah, the offense became as soon as moderately conservative. It could perhaps perchance perchance presumably’ve been nice for Ole Leave out to no longer drag 30 minutes and not utilizing a touchdown, however that wasn’t the case. The true news is that a New Year’s 6 Bowl is silent very mighty up for grabs on Thursday in Starkville. That’s about as mighty as Ole Leave out could perchance presumably’ve hoped for when 2021 started.

This map can opt up its first 10-rob fashioned season in program history. Not too shabby.

South Carolina — Bowling?! Bowling!

So take into legend this. With a 1st-time head coach, South Carolina became as soon as a 2-rob crew that entered the year ranked No. 125 out of 127 FBS teams in share of returning manufacturing. The Gamecocks are all of the procedure in which down to their third-string quarterback. The fashioned season over/beneath rob entire became as soon as 3.5. 5 weeks previously, South Carolina needed to turn to a grad assistant to manual a ideal-minute touchdown pressure true to compose its 1st SEC rob … and it became as soon as against Vandy.

Since then? South Carolina has crushed Florida and Auburn. That’s darn impressive. Even on an night in which Tank Bigsby became as soon as the true model of himself, the Gamecocks prevented him from if fact be told taking on. Jason Brown overcame a disagreeable early interception, and he shunned the large mistakes whereas sprinkling in some impressive throws on the movement, including the drag-ahead collect. After the Florida rob, it became as soon as certain that Shane Beamer’s crew became as soon as totally supplied in. We’ll see if that entails a rob against Clemson. Either procedure, what a turnaround it has been.

Beamer became as soon as overcome with emotion after Saturday’s rob, and understandably so. You would possibly want to perchance furthermore wager a entire bunch of folks in Blacksburg desire they’d perchance perchance presumably’ve employed Beamer ideal year.

Shane Beamer and the #Gamecocks are going to a bowl game. Raw emotion from the foremost-year coach.

— Brad Crawford (@BCrawford247) November 21, 2021

Tennessee — Georgia didn’t wreck the Vols

Yeah, it became as soon as South Alabama. At the identical time, the ideal aspect you wished to see became as soon as Tennessee like to grind out a 2-collect rob. As an more than just a few, the Vols did whatever they wished all night. Hendon Hooker got sizable throwing windows, Jabari Small got chunk plays without Tiyon Evans, and Tennessee’s protection didn’t see take care of a gassed neighborhood after a Saturday with Georgia. As an more than just a few of letting South Alabama climb wait on in the 2nd quarter, the Vols shook these post-1st-quarter woes in a sizable procedure.

And howdy, Saturday clinched bowl eligibility. It’s wild to mediate that Tennessee silent has a certain shot to achieve 8 wins. That became as soon as Jeremy Pruitt’s biggest season in 3 years in Knoxville. Difficult about your entire roster attrition in Knoxville, that’d be a excellent Year 1 feat for Josh Heupel.

Texas A&M — DeMarvin Leal has performed his ideal home game because he’s off to the NFL

Yeah, it became as soon as inevitable. Was as soon as that also a construction? Sure.

Leal published this week that he could perchance presumably be taking part in in his ideal home game, which if truth be told supposed that the All-SEC defensive lineman is off to the NFL. Naturally, the future 1st-spherical rob got a sack in his Kyle Discipline sendoff. Proper. He deserved that. Leal has been a durable, significant share of Mike Elko’s protection. He has 7.5 sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss this year, and he has 12 profession sacks and 24 tackles for loss. But numbers don’t if truth be told declare the beefy legend with Leal. It’s laborious to account for a guy who plays interior and outside whereas seemingly by no formula taking a play off.

The Aggies are likely going to lose a bunch of defensive manufacturing to the NFL, however no player can be more difficult to substitute than Leal. The man has lived as much as the 5-significant person hype. He’s everything A&M followers could perchance presumably’ve hoped for wait on when he dedicated to this system in April 2018. Jimbo Fisher acknowledged that Leal helped place this system in his culture. Don’t be very much very much surprised when he does the identical true aspect in the NFL.

Vanderbilt — There’s an true offensive identification with Mike Wright

I proceed to be impressed with the 2nd-year signal-caller. He provides the aspect of mobility that Vandy wished with that porous offensive line, nonetheless it’s turning into extra than that. Chris Pierce is making wait on-shoulder grabs and having a see take care of he’s totally on the identical internet page with Wright. The Vandy wideout accomplished the night with 10 catches for 113 yards. On an night in which Ole Leave out became as soon as favored by 5 touchdowns, Vandy possessed the ball for close to 39 minutes. Wright helped Vandy convert 12 third and 4th downs. That’s why Ole Leave out didn’t opt up the Senior Evening it hoped for ahead of a short week.

I idea Wright could perchance presumably furthermore silent’ve started against Kentucky ideal week, and it became as soon as nice to see his performance rewarded again. It’ll be sharp to see if Vandy can practice a the same methodology against a Tennessee crew that doesn’t care about time of possession. Vandy’s ideal likelihood at an SEC rob could perchance presumably effectively be a protracted shot, however on the very least, Clark Lea’s crew is taking part in its biggest ball on the true time.


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Connor O’Gara

Connor O’Gara is the senior nationwide columnist for Saturday Down South. He’s a member of the Football Writers Affiliation of America. After spending his entire life living in B1G country, he moved to the South in 2015.

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