If Hurricane Matthew never came ashore and the Florida-LSU contest went down as scheduled last month, I wonder whether the hardest of die-hard SEC fans would be taking a week off from the TV and/or tailgates. Sure, we’ve seen upsets before, but most of the top SEC teams are taking on … let’s call them lesser opponents this week. It’s giving us an insight into how health is affecting teams.
Are squads using this as a week as one where they can rest starters, or are they using it as a week where they can keep momentum? I doubt Chattanooga or West Carolina are going to be the new Appalachian State, but injuries never get a week off, so let’s look around SEC country:
South Carolina’s A.J. Turner cleared to play Saturday
South Carolina has what should be an easy game against Western Carolina, but the team looks like it wants to see what Turner can do coming off a mild knee sprain. Turner has been dealing with various knee issues almost all season, but when healthy, his burst is noticeable. With the knee injury, which could be an MCL sprain, that kind of lateral motion and then pow! zoom! is likely to be missing.
If this is a test to see where Turner is and how he can adjust, there’s no bad outcome. This is a low-risk move for Turner and the Gamecocks, but I’m not sure how much he’ll really be able to do. Even a little might end up being enough to help.
Mizzou QB a “Lock” to play, but how effectively against Vols?
While other teams have cupcakes, Mizzou and Tennessee have a key game. It’s a must-win for Tennessee in the SEC East title race, and for Mizzou, it’s about bowl aspirations. Mizzou will have Drew Lock at quarterback, but the team acknowledges that he’s not at 100 percent. How far from 100, you ask? It’s quite a ways, enough that his effectiveness is in real question.
Lock told reporters earlier this week that he has a bruise, not an ankle injury. Anything that can destabilize Lock’s base could make any kind of lateral motion tough. We’ll know early how effective he’ll be against the Vols.
Sean White leads long list of injured Auburn Tigers
Auburn is taking a game against a lesser opponent — no offense, Alabama A&M — as an opportunity to get healthy for the Iron Bowl. White looked awful last week against Georgia with his shoulder issue and will not play this week. It’s not just White that will take a seat for this week on the Plains. Kamryn Pettway is out again and there’s a host of others that will rest and heal. I’m not sure what this says about Auburn’s health, but the schedule is certainly doing the Tigers a favor.