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Shootouts not shutouts early norm in SEC

Associated Press Modified: October 3, 2012 at 4:47 pm •  Published: October 3, 2012

Georgia and Tennessee both have two of the nation's top 20 offenses. But their combined 95 points in an SEC game raised more than a few eyebrows.

"Those scores are crazy," LSU defensive end Sam Montgomery said.

If it happened to the Tigers, Montgomery joked that he'd make himself scarce around the football building.

"I wouldn't come here on Monday," he said. "But that's something that's not going to happen. I would do something illegal before that would happen here."

The SEC could be in line for another shootout on Saturday, if South Carolina and Georgia can replicate last year's 45-42 Gamecocks win.

Freeze, whose team was beaten 66-31 by No. 11 Texas in the only nonconference 50-pointer, doesn't expect offenses to hold the upper hand long in the SEC.

"I think it will trend that way a year or two and then come back the other way," the former Arkansas State offensive coordinator said. "These guys on the defensive side are going to find a way to bring it back down some — especially in this league. You still haven't seen the LSU's or Alabama's give up those kind of points ... I still say the national champion is going to be someone who is playing defense."

Indeed, Georgia is the SEC's only remaining national contender without a top-flight defense statistically.

The Bulldogs are, however, matching Texas A&M's league-best 48.2-point scoring average behind quarterback Aaron Murray and the top rusher in freshman tailback Todd Gurley. The fast-paced Aggies have had mixed early results in dealing with SEC defenses since joining the league.

They lost 20-17 to Florida in the season opener and exploded against the Razorbacks' 113th-rated scoring defense.

"We go on the field expecting to score every time we're out there," Texas A&M receiver Uzoma Nwachukwu said. "Every time we have a drive, we want to score a touchdown. We work in practice to do that. Every play we run we expect to get in the end zone. We think that we're a talented group. We think we can hang in there with anybody."

Whether the high-scoring games are good or bad depends on the perspective.

Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease attributes it to factors like fast tempos wearing down defenses and big, explosive receivers. And he's thrilled.

"I love scoring," Pease said. "You've got to have players built around you, you've got to be in the system for a few years. I mean, it takes some time."

Gators head coach Will Muschamp, a former defensive coordinator, agrees with the causes and said coaches have to have defensive depth nowadays to deal with the faster pace.

As for last weekend, Muschamp said: "I'm glad we were off."


AP Sports Writers David Brandt, Kristie Rieken, Mark Long, Steve Margargee and Brett Martel contributed to this report.