5 big SEC questions after week three

What a wild week in college football and in the SEC! Ole Miss shocked Alabama in Bryant-Denny Stadium. Unwanted by Virginia, Greyson Lambert put himself in the record books at Georgia. Leonard Fournette ran wild on Will Muschamp and his defense.

As the dust settles from this weekend, these are the biggest questions left to discuss after a crazy week of SEC football:


#1: Can Ole Miss keep it up?

For the second straight season, Ole Miss beat Alabama. Ole Miss needed some help, but at the end of the day, the Rebels got it done. Coming into the season I felt the Ole Miss defense, especially the front seven, had a chance to be special.

The reason Ole Miss looks like it can keep it up isn’t the defense. It’s Chad Kelly. Exiled from Clemson, Kelly was labeled as a bad seed. On Saturday, he looked like he had the leadership skills needed to take Ole Miss to the promised land. He finished 18 of 33 for 341 yards with 3 TD and 0 INT (he also ran for a score).

The SEC, and any conference for that matter, is a long and hard road. Ole Miss has passed the first test. There does not seem to be a reason it can’t pass the others.

#2: Is Greyson Lambert for real?

Lambert was not good enough to play quarterback for Virginia, a team that has only one winning season in the last five. On Saturday, he suited up for Georgia and passed his way into the record books. Is Lambert that good or is this some kind of an aberration?

Lambert scorched South Carolina, completing 24 of 25 passes for 330 yards and 3 TD. He broke the Georgia record for most consecutive completions. He also set a NCAA record by completing all of his passes but one.

Lambert’s performance was a combination of many things that went well for Georgia on Saturday. Brian Schottenheimer started him out with easy throws. Georgia’s offensive line kept Lambert protected. Georgia’s receivers caught the ball and then made plays. The play calling was magnificent as Lambert was able to sit back and hit his first read on numerous occasions. As the game went on, Lambert’s confidence grew and he was in the zone.

Is Lambert for real? I think he will be a more than capable QB for Georgia. Is he as good as Saturday? No. That was a combination of many things; chalk up a huge win for Mark Richt and Brian Schottenheimer as they took South Carolina to the woodshed on Saturday with their play calling. If Richt and Schottenheimer can put together game plans like that for Lambert and Georgia for the rest of the year, the SEC championship is well within reach for the Dawgs.

#3: Has the Gus Bus permanently derailed?

In 2014, Auburn rolled LSU, 45-7. Nick Marshall and Cameron Artis-Payne dominated. LSU couldn’t get anything done on offense. Leonard Fournette had 10 carries for 42 yards.

This year, the shoe was on the other foot. After one carry, Fournette had 71 yards. LSU was up 24-0 at halftime and eased its way to a lopsided win.

The Gus Bus hasn’t permanently derailed, but there are significant issues to be addressed. For each of the last three years, Auburn has been in the top ten in recruiting (per 247 Sports). Gus has been recruiting the players that are a fit for his offense. Therefore, why has his offense stopped working?

That’s the big question. We knew there would be holes on defense despite Will Muschamp taking over. No running back has stepped up into the Tre Mason/Cameron Artis-Payne role. Jeremy Johnson is floundering in the offense. It feels like D’haquille Williams is in witness protection.

Gus has to make some player decisions. He has to revamp his offense based on his personnel. He needs to do it quickly. This isn’t the end of the Gus Bus, but Malzahn has a lot of work to do to get back on track.

#4: Who is the best running back in the SEC?

The easy answer to this question is Leonard Fournette. He had 228 yards and 3 TD against Auburn and was the key in the LSU victory.

The second answer to this is Nick Chubb. He’s reliable and steady and often explosive. He’s averaging 8.36 yards per carry this season.

The most well-rounded could be Chubb’s running mate, Sony Michel. Despite not getting starter-level carries, Michel has excelled early this season for Georgia and has given the Dawgs’ offense another dimension. He’s carried the ball 28 times and has gained 148 yards with 2 rushing TD. Those stats aren’t bad, but they’re not Chubb- or Fournette-type numbers… until you factor in what he is doing out of the backfield.

Michel has 7 receptions for 141 yards in three games. He has scored three times on those receptions. In three games he has 5 TDs in a number-two running-back role.

Fournette and Chubb are the best two running backs in the league, and there are others we haven’t mentioned who deserve a nod. That said, keep an eye on Michel. He has everything it takes to be special, and Georgia is using him the right way so far this season.

#5 Is this the end of the line for Steve Spurrier?

The young, brash Steve Spurrier who said what he wanted and backed it up is gone. What we are left with is a coach whose time has passed him by. Spurrier will be remembered as one of the greatest college football minds of our era. It’s a shame that he’s outstayed his welcome.

Sometimes you can look at a calendar and realize the exact time something stopped working. For South Carolina, it was the minute Connor Shaw left campus. Shaw helped Spurrier overcome his flaws because he was an out-of-the-box QB. He improvised and had leadership skills that you don’t often see in college QBs.

On Saturday, the Georgia-South Carolina game was an example of a coach who was simply overmatched. Georgia had better talent, but the Dawgs also had better Xs and Os (by a long shot). There was a time when Spurrier had Mark Richt’s number. Georgia had the talent but Spurrier had the chalkboard.

That time has passed, and it’s time for Steve Spurrier to understand that.

About Kevin Causey

Dry humorist, craft beer enthusiast, occasionally unbiased SEC fan, UGA alumni, contributor for The Comeback.