If the college football season is like a road trip, several SEC schools found themselves at a crossroads in Week 4.
Some teams, like Auburn and Kentucky, followed the GPS and went the right way. Others, like Georgia and Florida, wound up in the ditch.
Here’s the one big thing each SEC coach said Saturday:
Tennessee and Florida
Tennessee spotted Florida a 21-3 halftime lead before roaring back for a 38-28 victory. Coach Butch Jones was obviously happy with his team’s second-half effort:
“They’re hearing the boos at halftime and they could’ve folded but they didn’t,” he said. “The crowd was into it. We didn’t give them a whole lot to cheer about in the first half but they stayed.”
In the other locker room, the mood was a bit more subdued.
“Obviously very disappointing. My hat’s off to them in how they came out at halftime,” Florida coach Jim McElwain said. “They really took it to us, obviously, with explosive plays. You know, they controlled it and we never did flip the field offensively in that third quarter at all. We didn’t have very many plays or many yards. … That’s not good football.”
The Commodores scored on the last play of regulation on a Ralph Webb touchdown run and then fought off Western Kentucky in overtime for the 31-30 win.
"We tenderized that meat all night” – Derek Mason on choosing to run power play for TD on final snap of regulation amid WKU's "tired" D-line
— Adam Sparks (@AdamSparks) September 25, 2016
As expected, the Crimson Tide thumped Kent State on Saturday. The surprise came in the postgame press conference, where Nick Saban was actually happy:
“The goal today was to play a complete game, start fast and finish,” he said. “I think we probably did that as well as we’ve done it all year.”
Kentucky and South Carolina
Kentucky got a late touchdown and made it stand up in a 17-10 victory against the Gamecocks in a SEC East clash.
"You can't change the past, but we can certainly change our future." — @UKCoachStoops
— Kentucky Athletics (@UKAthletics) September 25, 2016
South Carolina had a few key receivers out of action, and coach Will Muschamp pointed to that fact after the game:
“I think we’ve made a lot of progress,” he said. “But it’s hard in the passing game with guys missing a lot of time.”
Texas A&M and Arkansas
Arkansas’ coach Bret Bielema didn’t like the way his team responded late in a 45-24 loss to Texas A&M.
Bielema said some of his players took the field in the fourth quarter with a “poor demeanor” – said it would be “addressed on film.”
— Brent Zwerneman (@BrentZwerneman) September 25, 2016
There are, naturally, two sides to every story:
Sumlin: The efficiency of us being able to run the ball in the second half and create big plays down the field…that was important.
— TexAgs (@TexAgs) September 25, 2016
Auburn and LSU
It was a wild finish on the Plains as LSU thought it had scored the game-winning touchdown, only for the replay officials to reverse the decision.
“Sometimes it’s the way you win that leaves a lasting impression on our guys,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. “That was a good way to win for our team.”
The game may end up leaving the wrong sort of imprint on LSU’s season.
“We knew that the referee wasn’t going to blow the whistle, was going to raise a hand and the clock was going to start,” LSU coach Les Miles said. “We were trying to set up as fast as we could, and we thought we were pretty close.”
It wasn’t a thing of beauty, but Mississippi State came away from its trip to Massachusetts with a win over the Minutemen.
“We need to will ourselves to win,” Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said. “We had over 300 yards in the first half. … It’s all us. It has nothing to do with anything but us playing better.”
Ole Miss and Georgia
Ole Miss started fast and never looked back in a blowout victory against Georgia.
Freeze on rebounding after two losses: "This one will stand out because of the type of losses we've had."
— Daily Mississippian (@thedm_sports) September 24, 2016
Kirby Smart: "We didn't do a good job today…but this team will come back and fight" pic.twitter.com/FYBuPUdSZL
— Anthony Dasher (@AnthonyDasher1) September 24, 2016
When a team wins 79-0, as the Tigers did against Delaware State, the postgame is bound to be brief:
Odom: “Dang excited for our team.”
— Blake Toppmeyer (@btoppmeyer) September 24, 2016