Road to Atlanta Week Nine: The good, the bad, the Butch Jones

The Commodores play Georgia on Saturday, October 7, 2017. Photo by Claire Barnett//The Vanderbilt Hustler.

Just as many teams in the East have winning conference records as those who are winless.

Georgia, South Carolina, and Kentucky are all above .500 in SEC play, while Missouri, Vanderbilt, and Tennessee have yet to emerge victorious from a conference game. Florida sits right in the middle of the pack at 3-3.

Georgia dominated against Florida and won 42-7. The humiliating loss was one of many factors in Florida’s subsequent firing of head coach Jim McElwain.

Georgia running back Sony Michel ran for 137 yards and two touchdowns on only six carries, which just about sums up how porous Florida’s front seven was. Nick Chubb added 77 yards on 13 carries for another solid performance.

Florida lost their one bright spot of the year to injury when freshman running back Malik Davis suffered a season-ending knee injury.

Gators quarterback Malik Zaire replaced starter Feleipe Franks in the game, and interim head coach Randy Shannon stated he would reopen the quarterback competition for the remainder of this lost season. Zaire brings experience, and Franks has not been impressive in the majority of his playing time.

The victory for Georgia was also enough to catapult them into the number one spot in the first College Football Playoff rankings, with Alabama sitting in second.

Vanderbilt quarterback Kyle Shurmur had his best game of the year, but it was not enough as the Commodores fell to South Carolina 34-37.

Shurmur threw for four touchdowns and 333 yards. He had to shoulder most of the offensive workload because Vanderbilt spent much of the game behind. Another reason the Commodores did not run much is because of their struggling offensive line. The entire team only contributed 23 carries.

South Carolina’s defensive backs defended 10 of Shurmur’s passes, but were wildly inconsistent and still allowed four passing touchdowns. Gamecocks quarterback Jake Bentley ran for two touchdowns and threw another.

As a team, South Carolina averaged 5.7 yards per carry to balance the offense.

In a battle between two coaches on the hot seat, Butch Jones lost. Kentucky defeated Tennessee 29-26.

Kentucky overcame four turnovers to win on a Stephen Johnson touchdown run with 33 seconds left in the game. Four players each lost a fumble for the Wildcats.

Kentucky’s defense sacked Jarrett Guarantano seven times, which further limited an already weak Tennessee passing attack.

Tennessee held possession for over 38 minutes, but the Volunteers could not get enough traction from the passing game to complement a strong rushing performance. Guarantano completed 18 passes for 242 yards and no touchdowns.

Missouri is now riding a two-game win streak after beating Connecticut 52-12.

The night started off poorly for the Tigers when a bad snap on the opening drive led to a Connecticut safety. But quarterback Drew Lock was impressive, throwing for five touchdowns and 377 yards.

The Tigers defense added five sacks and nine tackles for loss.

In Week 10, Florida visits Missouri in their first game of the post-Jim McElwain era. Tennessee, who still has its head coach for now, hosts Southern Mississippi. Vanderbilt plays another directional school in Western Kentucky. South Carolina heads to Athens to face division-leader Georgia. Kentucky welcomes Ole Miss to town after already reaching bowl eligibility last week.

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