Barnhart’s Five Burning Questions for Week 8

7 days ago
Tony Barnhart | SEC Network

We have a bit of a thin schedule this Saturday as five SEC teams (Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky and Missouri) are taking the week off.

But there are still burning questions that need answers. Lots of them. We are approaching the fourth Saturday in October and there is so much that we still don’t know.

So let’s start here:

1. What is the mindset of LSU on the road vs. Ole Miss?

Coming off a 42-21 loss at Kentucky on Oct. 9, LSU surprised a lot of people by beating Florida 49-42 in Baton Rouge last Saturday. The big win, however, did not save the job of Coach Ed Orgeron, who will coach the rest of the season but not return for 2022.

All of which leads to additional, but related questions. Do the LSU players rally behind their lame-duck coach? Simply put: How excited will LSU be about this game?

2. Is Ole Miss QB Matt Corral going to be ready to play against LSU?

There seems to be some debate over this topic. Corral was brilliant against Tennessee last Saturday, throwing for over 200 yards and carrying the ball 30 times for 195 yards in a 31-26 win in Knoxville. But Corral took a pounding in the process.

Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin said his quarterback was “not in very good shape” when he addressed the media on Monday. On Wednesday Kiffin declined to update Corral’s status.

 Remember that the Rebels (5-1, 2-1) can still win the SEC West if they run the table and Alabama (6-1, 3-1) loses again. Stay tuned.

3. Does Tennessee have any chance of breaking its 14-game losing streak to Alabama?

Tennessee (4-3, 2-2 SEC) has been playing better of late, scoring 107 total points against Missouri and South Carolina and then going to the wire in losing to Ole Miss 31-26.

The problem: Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker injured his leg late in the game with Ole Miss and was not on the field for the Volunteers’ final possession. If he is close to full speed Hooker could present some problems for the Alabama defense. But if he’s not, this one could be painful to watch if you wear Big Orange.

Interesting side note: Alabama has won 32 straight games against teams from the SEC East.

4. Are you looking for a good story?

Then follow Zeb Noland, the starting quarterback at South Carolina. Folks, you can’t make this stuff up.

Noland came to South Carolina earlier this year after playing quarterback for Iowa State and North Dakota State. He had a year of eligibility left but wanted to get started on his coaching career. So he enrolled at South Carolina and became a graduate assistant coach. When starting quarterback Luke Doty was injured, Noland was asked to suit up and practice so that South Carolina would have some depth at quarterback. Then he won the job.

He eventually gave the position back when Doty was healed. But last week against Vanderbilt, South Carolina trailed 20-14 with time running out. Noland was inserted into the game and drove the Gamecocks 75 yards for the winning score with only 39 seconds left.

Doty is now done for the season and Noland will be the starter as the Gamecocks go to Texas A&M. His goal is to get the Gamecocks (4-3) to a bowl. It will be a tall order as South Carolina’s final five games are against Texas A&M, Florida, Missouri, Auburn and Clemson. But it will be fun watching him try.

5. Is Mississippi State QB Will Rogers going to play at Vanderbilt?

Rogers, the No. 1 passer in the SEC (360.3 ypg), suffered an AC Joint injury in the first quarter of a 49-9 loss to Alabama last Saturday. Rogers went to the medical tent but eventually returned to the game.

There has been no official word on whether or not Rogers will be able to play Saturday afternoon against Vanderbilt. If he can’t play the ball goes to backup Chance Lovertich. He has not thrown a pass this season.

Vanderbilt (2-5, 0-3) and new coach Clark Lea are still looking for their first SEC win.

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