Chicken Fried SEC Questions, Week 11…
1. Mizzou quarterback Drew Lock continues to receive a lot of national attention, and praise, for his play. Do you have any fave Drew Lock statistics?
Well, we know that Lock leads the nation with 31 touchdown passes. And, yeah we know that 18 of the touchdown throws came in the wins over Missouri State, Idaho and UConn.
But 31 is a big number.
Lock’s 31 touchdown passes are more than the combined total of the top two teams in the CFB Playoff rankings. Georgia and Alabama have combined to throw for 30 touchdowns this season.
Lock’s 31 touchdowns are more than Oklahoma’s 30 touchdown passes.
Lock’s 31 touchdowns means he’s thrown for more scores than 126 teams in the FBS.
Lock’s 31 touchdowns are more than what all Florida quarterbacks have had over the last TWO seasons combined.
His 31 touchdown passes are more than what 25 teams have had over the last TWO seasons combined.
Lock’s 31 TD passses are more than what 10 teams have over the last THREE seasons combined.
Lock’s 31 TD this season are more than former Mizzou QB Corby Jones had over three seasons (26), and more than former MU quarterback Kirk Farmer had in four seasons (26.)
Since 1996, only 11 SEC quarterbacks have thrown for more than 31 touchdowns in a season against all competition: Kentucky’s Andre Woodson (40), Florida’s Danny Wuerffel (39), Kentucky’s Tim Couch (37) Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel (37), Tennessee’s Peyton Manning (36), Georgia’s Aaron Murray (35), Murray again (34), Tennessee’s Tyler Bray (34), Florida’s Rex Grossman (34), Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett (32), Florida’s Tim Tebow.
Since Mizzou joined the SEC in 2012, only three SEC quarterbacks had more than 31 touchdown passes in a season (all competition: Manziel’s 37 in 2013, Murray’s 36 in 2012, and Bray’s 34 in 2012.
Kinda cool, eh?
And Lock figures to air it out for more touchdowns against Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Arkansas.
1a. One more note on Lock: He has definitely improved in his performance against SEC teams. And as you know, it’s a recent trend. But also a positive one. It’s also a small sample, three games. Duly noted. Sample size aside, he’s played better.
I’ll give you some side-by-side numbers, the before and after.
On the left side you will see the stats from Lock’s first 18 SEC games (17 starts) of his Missouri career. And on the right side are the corresponding stats from his last three games; the opponents were Kentucky, Georgia and Florida.
Completion percentage: 50.2 … 60.0
Yards per passing attempt: 6.04 … 9.61
Passer Rating: 103.0 … 173.8
Touchdowns and interceptions: 15 TD, 19 INT … 10 TD, 2 INT
Touchdown percentage: 2.7 … 11.5
Interception percentage: 3.4 … 2.3
Points per game: 15.6 … 35.6
Record: 3-15, 3-14 as starter … 1-2, all starts
Let’s move on to the next topic…
2. Big game at Auburn on Saturday, with the Tigers ready to pounce on No. 1 Georgia and try for an upset. What’s the key for Auburn? How does War Eagle pull it off?
Kerryon Johnson is an outstanding running back. He’s averaging 124 yards per game, and has rushed for 15 touchdowns. But Georgia is 5th in the nation at stopping the run, giving up only 89 ground yards per game.
I think Auburn will need a big day — maybe a defining performance — from quarterback Jarrett Stidham. He’s been coming on pretty strong after getting acclimated to coordinator Chip Lindsey’s system. In his last six games, all against SEC teams, Stidham has completed 65 percent of his throws, averaged 228 yards, and hit defenses for nine touchdowns with only one interception. And an Auburn O-line that allowed 11 sacks in the opening loss at Clemson has settled down, giving up only eight sacks in the last six games. That has allowed Stidham more time to connect with his receivers on deeper routes. One potential issue is Auburn head coach Guz Malzahn turning conservative and not wanting Stidham to stay on the attack. That’s what happened in Auburn’s stupid loss at LSU earlier this season.
Sure, Georgia has the nation’s seventh-ranked pass defense. And the Dawgs have 8 interceptions and have gotten stung for only 8 touchdown passes. But Lock and Mizzou showed that it is possible to damage Georgia through the air. Auburn will need to have a potent passing attack in this one to prevent Georgia from loading up the box to stop the run.
3. All right, let’s look at the game from the Georgia standpoint. Will playing No. 10 Auburn on the road be the toughest test of the season for true freshman Jake Fromm?
Fromm’s first start came at Notre Dame in the second week of the season. But Georgia was conservative with Fromm that night, having him throw a lot of short passes in the Dawgs’ 20-19 win.
I think this will in fact be Fromm’s biggest challenge to date. Auburn’s defense is very good. And Fromm hasn’t played as well on the road as he has at home. At home he’s completed 65 percent with 9 touchdowns and 1 interception. On the road, Fromm has completed 55 percent with 5 touchdowns and three interceptions. Auburn’s defense figures to at least slow Georgia’s prolific ground game.
If so, we may see something with Georgia that we haven’t seen all season. If the Georgia rushing attack struggles, Can Jake Fromm take over a game? Can he make big third-down throws? If Georgia is behind late in the game, can Fromm lead his offense down the field, working the clock and throwing accurate passes under pressure? Fromm is having a superb freshman season. But he hasn’t had to win a game. He hasn’t had to put his team on his back.
4. No. 2 Alabama has a banged-up defense that’s missing multiple starters. No. 16 Mississippi State is a dangerous team at home. Do you smell an upset brewing?
Short answer, no.
Yes, Mississippi State is 5-0 in Starkville this season, averaging 40 points per game at home. But let’s not get carried away. Dan Mullen is a terrific coach, and he’s widely respected for his creative offense. But in eight games against Alabama coach Nick Saban, Mullen is 0 and 8, with his offense averaging only 7.8 points against the Bama defense.
Last season when the teams met in Tuscaloosa, Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald completed only 10 of 33 passes and rushed for just 15 yards. Alabama routed Mississippi State 51 to 3. And in six games against ranked teams in his two seasons as the starter, Fitzgerald has completed only 47 percent of his passes with more interceptions than touchdowns.
Despite all of the fuss over Fitzgerald’s talent, fact is he’s thrown 13 touchdown passes this season with 10 interceptions. That is a terrible ratio … and no formula for success against Alabama.
5. Florida already has fired its head coach Jim McElwain. Tennessee (Butch Jones) will follow. Kevin Sumlin is almost certainly done at Texas A&M at the end of the season. Bret Bielema is in a heap o’ trouble at Arkansas. And Ole Miss is shopping for a coach. It makes us wonder: how many coaches have come and gone since Saban took over at Alabama in 2007?
Not including interim coaches, Saban has coached against 37 different head coaches of SEC programs. A dozen are still in place this season.
Let’s go to the scorecard: during Saban’s time at Alabama, three SEC coaches retired, three left to take another job … and 19 have been fired. And that count could rise to 22 in a matter of weeks if Jones, Sumlin and Bielema are dismissed.
Fired coaches include Les Miles, Mark Richt, Phillip, Fulmer, Tommy Tuberville, Bobby Petrino, Gene Chizik, Sylvester Croom, Hugh Freeze, Mike Sherman, Ed Orgeron and Houston Nutt, Come to think of it, Nutt has been fired twice during Saban’s term in Tuscaloosa. The first time by Arkansas, the second as the Ole Miss. And if Orgeron gets sacked by LSU before Saban retires (whenever that happens), Orgeron would also be coached fired twice while competing against the Saban program.
The retirees include Gary Pinkel, Steve Spurrier and Rich Brooks.
The two most prominent coaches who left for bigger gigs and more money are led by Urban Meyer and James Franklin. And Lane Kiffin was the third.
Thanks for reading …