Unlike baseball or basketball, football games have weeklong layoffs that allow coaches and fans to mull over everything that went right or wrong during the preceding week.
Half of the SEC coaches below are having a great week after game plans and decisions that led to wins and happy locker rooms. The other half is watching game tape with their arms crossed in disgust.
1. Lane Kiffin, Alabama offensive coordinator
Kiffin has become a mainstay on this list and deserves every bit of it. The Tide piled on 594 yards of offense on No. 9 Tennessee, showcasing the dynamic playmaking ability of freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts. Hurts led the team with 132 rushing yards, but plenty of others got in on the action with 438 team rushing yards. Tennessee was without two starting linebackers and Kiffin made sure he exploited the Volunteers’ weakness defending the run. Not a bad day in Knoxville for Kiffin.
2. Torrian Gray, Florida defensive backs coach
In his first season with the Gators, Gray has helped produce one of the fiercest secondaries in the nation. Florida intercepted Missouri quarterback Drew Locke twice in a 40-14 win and held the tigers to just 98 yards through the air. Led by Teez Tabor, Florida tips the SEC with 10 interceptions and is second in the nation allowing just 132.8 passing yards per game.
3. Derek Mason, Vanderbilt head coach
Vanderbilt probably shouldn’t have beaten Georgia between the hedges 17-16, but Mason’s defensive game plan allowed it to happen. He forced Georgia to win with freshman quarterback Jacob Eason. Though Eason threw for 346 yards and a touchdown, the ground game was stifled and held to just 75 yards on 35 carries. Kudos to Mason for going into Athens with a winning idea. Linebacker Zach Cunningham’s 19 tackles also helped.
4. Steve Ensminger, LSU offensive coordinator
I’m not sure what was in Ensminger’s Gatorade at halftime, but whatever it was worked as LSU scored 35 second-half points to beat Southern Mississippi 45-10. The Tigers only had possession for 22 minutes the entire game and ran 42 plays, but that was plenty as three of Danny Etling’s 11 completions went for touchdowns (all in the second half) and Derrius Guice had touchdown runs of 20 and 60 yards. In two games calling plays, Ensminger has LSU averaging 43.5 points.
1. Josh Heupel, Missouri offensive coordinator
Heupel’s uptempo offense torched lesser programs early in the season, but it’s been a disaster again top SEC competition. Quarterback Drew Locke completed just 4 passes for 39 yards and was picked off twice. The Tigers offense managed 265 yards rushing but only scored 14 points. This is Huepel’s first year with Mizzou so he deserves more time, but adjustments need to be made moving forward when the Tigers face tough defenses.
2. Chris Kiffin, Ole Miss defensive line coach
If there was offensive line for Ole Miss to demoralize, it was Arkansas. Instead, the Rebels only got to Austin Allen three times. This is the same Austin Allen that was pressured by Alabama on 68.9 percent of his drop backs and sacked seven times the week before. Instead, Allen was able to complete 19 of 32 pass attempts for 229 yards and 3 touchdowns. On the ground, the Razorbacks rushed for 200 yards in a 34-30 win. This particular Kiffin didn’t do his job last week.
3. Don Mahoney, Tennessee offensive line coach
Alabama makes just about every offensive line look bad, so it’s tough to put blame on Mahoney. However, he knew what he was getting into when the Tide rolled into town. Alabama sacked Arkansas’ Austin Allen seven times the week before and managed to get Josh Dobbs three times. The biggest letdown was Tennessee’s overall rushing numbers. Including Dobbs’ sacks, the Volunteers tallied 32 yards on on 32 carries. Again, Alabama’s defense is other-worldly, but a top-10 team has to do better.
4. Jim Chaney, Georgia offensive coordinator
Chaney made the bonehead call of the week when he handed the ball to Isaiah McKenzie on a game-deciding fourth-and-1 play late against Vanderbilt. McKenzie, all 5-8, 175 pounds of him, took his first carry of the game and got stuffed short of the first down. Maybe Chaney was going for the element of surprise here, but with Nick Chubb and Sony Michel as backfield options, it seems the ball should have gone elsewhere. Maybe even freshman quarterback Jacob Eason at 6-5, 235 pounds should have been given the chance to plunge forward. This one call isn’t the only reason Georgia lost to Vanderbilt 17-16, but it’s the one that’s haunted Georgia fans all week.