SEC offenses finally having their season to shine
FAYETTEVILLE, ARK. (AP) - This isn’t your father’s Southeastern Conference anymore.
The change didn’t happen overnight, and it’s not one all of league coaches are ready to fully embrace. But facts are facts, and there’s no denying that points are up and defenses are struggling to stay ahead of the curve.
This season, the SEC leads all FBS conferences with an average of 31.1 points per game. The Pac-10 and Big 12 are tied for second (30.2 ppg), familiar ground for leagues known for high scores.
For the SEC, however, its days as an offensive superpower are relatively new. The conference was tied for first with the Big 12 last season at 28.4 points per game, but it was ninth as recently as 2008 at 25.6. Before that, the conference hadn’t finished higher than fourth in the decade, finishing 10th twice and ninth another time.
So what gives, besides the defense?
“The thing that I’ve always believed about our league, and I don’t know that it’s changed a whole lot, as an offensive coach you’re always looking for a match or a mismatch,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “Offensively it is very difficult to say, ‘I’m going to pick on this guy’ because athletes are just as good on the defensive side.
“It is a time now that it’s swinging a little bit? I don’t know that I can say for sure. That’s kind of the debate.”
The most obvious example of the shift is No. 2 Auburn. The undefeated Tigers, led by dual-threat quarterback Cam Newton and second-year offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, lead the conference in scoring at 42.8 points per game. They also allow 24.9, only eighth-best in the league,
“Offenses are very explosive these days,” Chizik said. “We’re trying to contain some of these high-powered players and high-powered offenses. Week in and week out in this league, you’re seeing the offenses scoring a lot of points and accounting for a lot of yards. Our goal and objective at the end of the day is to win.”
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier, who brought his high-powered fun-‘n-gun offense to the conference when he was at Florida, said one reason for the rise in points is simple: the no-huddle teams are getting more snaps and more chances to score along with them.
“If teams are more into running and sort of controlling the clock, then I don’t think the points would go up that much,” Spurrier said.
Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino, a former offensive coordinator at Auburn, said he has seen more variety in SEC offenses over the past decade. He said Urban Meyer’s spread-option attack at Florida played a role in changing the SEC and that more teams are willing to throw.