Published September 6, 2012 - 2:39pm
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We’re only through week one in college football, and it sure did come and go quickly. That’s what you’ll be saying about the season in December.
Here are some questions worth asking in looking ahead:
Is Todd Gurley the next great Georgia running back? Georgia has had a history of blue chip recruits disappearing once they hit the campus in Athens, but Todd Gurley could be different. All preseason we heard the buzz about Gurley tearing it up during fall camp. Players were comparing him to Trent Richardson, and the coaching staff continued to rave about his scrimmages. Well, we found out in a big way against Buffalo that this kid is the real deal. He rushed for 100 yards on eight carries and two touchdowns. That doesn’t include his 100-yard kickoff return, either. This kid has the rare combination of size, speed and playmaking ability when the lights come on. Let’s see how he progresses throughout the season.
Florida’s first showing wasn’t too impressive. Is Florida in for a long season? Florida fans have the expectation to show up and blow out all week-one opponents. Depending on your expectation level, you came away disheartened by the Gators’ showing on offense and defense. Florida played BGSU close the entire game, with the inability to really put the game away. BG also managed to get 327 yards on Florida’s top 10-ranked defense. But in Florida’s defense, the offense and defense was very vanilla, and Muschamp didn’t want to show the Gators’ hand too much. However, it is Bowling Green, and if Florida doesn’t get more offensive production from the quarterback position, they’ll be heading home with a loss from College Station.
Can Tennessee really win the East? The East is definitely wide open, and week one further clarified that thought. Tennessee was probably the week-one team that helped itself, as a program and brand, more than any other team in the SEC. If Tennessee can get that kind of production from the running game each week, the Vols will be tough to beat any week. They don’t play LSU or Arkansas, and there is a good chance they could win the East. But let’s hold off until week three when Florida comes to town to see how good this offense really can be.
Can South Carolina continue to win without a passing game? I know Marcus Lattimore is very good and is a complete stud, but South Carolina won’t compete for an East championship by giving him the ball 30 to 40 times per game. Quarterback Connor Shaw has to step up his game, if he’s healthy, and really get more production and a downfield threat established. I know he’s 9-1 as a starter, but this team won’t win the East without a passing threat. Carolina has to identify some receivers, and Shaw has to do a better job of staying in the pocket and allowing his receivers to get open. Additionally, only three wide receivers caught a pass in the opener. There has to be more production in the passing game, or South Carolina is looking at an eight-win season.
Can Missouri upset the Bulldogs at home for their SEC opener? This is the million-dollar question. It will certainly be two contrasting styles in Mizzou’s spread offense and Georgia’s pro-style. Do I think Mizzou can win this game? Yes. But let me preface it by saying that it will take one of their best games of the season. I think James Franklin will have to carry it 10 to 15 times and make some unreal plays. Buffalo hurt Georgia last week with a mobile quarterback, and Franklin is two times the athlete he was. Georgia will play conservatively on offense like the Bulldogs are known for, but Missouri will have to have special teams help out, too. Last week, the Tigers returned two punts for touchdowns, and I think they will have to win in all facets of the game to beat Georgia.
Will Vanderbilt rebound and make a bowl game? What a way it would have been to start 1-0 against a top 10-ranked opponent in SC. But it didn’t work out that way in the end. I like the direction of this program and where it’s headed right now, but it will be a tough task holding onto James Franklin. Looking ahead on the schedule, the winnable games are Northwestern, Presbyterian, UMASS, Kentucky, Ole Miss and Wake Forest. That’s six games that should be wins. Georgia, Missouri, Florida, Auburn and Tennessee are all iffy games at the best. Six wins should be in order for the Commodores, but this weekend’s game against Northwestern is the wild card. This is a big game for Franklin’s Commodores.
Will this be Joker Phillips’ final season in Lexington? Joker Phillips is a Kentucky guy. He played there; he coached there; he’s been very loyal to this program as a whole. It’s a tough time for him, I’m sure, seeing his beloved program and team at a low point. But Kentucky wants and needs to be competitive in the SEC. The Cats have to show improvement this season and get six wins. If they win five and show improvement, maybe Mitch Barnhart gives Phillips one more year to get things right. Quarterback Max Smith is a start, and he needs to take this team by the reigns.