SEC Football Q&A: If Florida Upsets LSU, Will Gators Be SEC East Favorites?

Barrett SalleeSEC Football Lead WriterOctober 10, 2013

Florida QB Tyler Murphy
Florida QB Tyler MurphySam Greenwood/Getty Images

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@BarrettSallee if Florida can pull off the upset in Baton Rouge, are they in your opinion the front runner of the East?

— brendin. (@bt_HOLDER) October 10, 2013

That depends on what happens elsewhere, because Georgia and Missouri are squaring off earlier in the day in a battle of teams who are also undefeated within the conference.

Florida QB Tyler Murphy
Florida QB Tyler MurphySam Greenwood/Getty Images

But if Florida goes to LSU and wins in Death Valley with a backup quarterback making just his third career start, that'd be a statement in my mind. So yes, Florida would the be the SEC East front-runner.

Florida has the defense to be in every game. Even without defensive tackle Dominique Easley, the Gators have so much talent and depth up front that they're going to shut down the run and force teams to beat them through the air—which is exactly what happened last week in their 30-10 win over Arkansas.

Do the have enough offense though?

Murphy has been pretty solid over the last two weeks, completing 75 percent of his passes (30-of-40) with four touchdown passes and only one pick as a starter. Kentucky isn't exactly tough, but Arkansas has very quietly posted the SEC's third-best defense this season, giving up just 339.5 yards per game.

LSU's defense hasn't been great—it currently ranks seventh in the SEC with 357 yards per game—but it's still a tough matchup for Murphy in a hostile environment against the most athletic defense he has seen as a starter.

That'll be enough to me to elevate Florida to my SEC East favorite, but there still will be plenty of hurdles for the Gators to clear to make it to Atlanta.

Florida head coach Will Muschamp
Florida head coach Will MuschampRob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports


How long will Arkansas' losing streak last? RT @BarrettSallee: Need some questions for SEC Q&A. Send 'em in, folks!

— Tyler Woessner (@TylerWoessner) October 10, 2013

I'm going to say six...for now, anyway.

Arkansas is in the middle of a brutal five-game stretch that started with the loss at Rutgers, included losses to Texas A&M and Florida, and concludes with Saturday's home game with South Carolina and next week's road tilt with Alabama.

Arkansas RB Alex Collins
Arkansas RB Alex CollinsSam Greenwood/Getty Images

The final two of that stretch will be losses, and then the Hogs take a week off before closing the season at home versus Auburn, at Ole Miss, versus Mississippi State and at LSU. Auburn's a toss-up. While the Hogs will get two weeks to prepare, Auburn has a tune-up with Florida Atlantic the week before, which essentially cancels out that advantage.

Auburn's defense is playing well and the offense is tough, so I'd give the edge to the Tigers right now.

That brings us to Ole Miss in Oxford. Rebel quarterback Bo Wallace isn't in sync with his wide receivers and his offensive line couldn't protect him last week in a loss at Auburn. If Auburn can do it, Arkansas' Chris Smith and Trey Flowers are set up to have a field day. 

The Hogs will break their losing streak with a win over Ole Miss on Nov. 9, but leave themselves no margin for error for the rest of the season.

Those picks subject to change, of course.

Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema
Arkansas head coach Bret BielemaSam Greenwood/Getty Images


@BarrettSallee With player talent, recruiting at a high level but giving up 30+ a game, is UGA well paid Grantham living up to expectations?

— Andy M. Johnson (@GeorgiaGunOwner) October 7, 2013

Thank you!

For the life of me, I can't figure out why offensive coordinator Mike Bobo receives all the criticism from Bulldog fans and defensive coordinator Todd Grantham is somehow immune. The Georgia offense has finished third in the SEC in total offense in each of the last two seasons, while the defense has been scuffling.

Georgia DC Todd Grantham
Georgia DC Todd GranthamDaniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Georgia had defensive tackles John Jenkins and Kwame Geathers, linebackers Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree and safeties Bacarri Rambo and Shawn Williams last season, and finished 12th in the SEC in rush defense.

Not the nation, the SEC—which, the last time I checked, only has 14 teams.

This season, the script is flipped and Georgia's secondary is the issue, which reflects poorly on Grantham.

They're giving up 403.8 yards per game, are last in the SEC in scoring defense (32.2 PPG), are 12th in the conference in pass defense and have issues lining up properly on virtually every drive. That falls on coaching.

Grantham has been a major disappointment, and with Georgia's offensive pieces dwindling, that puts even more pressure on the defense.

That's a scary thought. At least, it should be.


Do you have a question for next week's Q&A? Send it to SEC lead writer Barrett Sallee via the B/R inbox, on Twitter @BarrettSallee or at