Twenty-five percent of the SEC’s season is in the books. Let’s take a gander at the five biggest takeaways through four weeks:
No one team stands out: Is there an elite team in the SEC? Perhaps through four weeks we haven’t seen just one, or perhaps we haven’t seen any. Alabama was thought to be the dominant team in the country, but they may not even be the best team in their own division. Alabama, LSU, Georgia and Texas A&M still remain in the national championship hunt, while South Carolina, Florida, Ole Miss and Missouri should be considered in the SEC hunt. Last year at this time, we were debating how big the gap is between Alabama and everyone else.
Related: SEC Power Rankings
Offensive numbers are up: The SEC is scoring 35.12 points per game through four weeks, the highest it has been since 1992. The SEC has long since been known as a running back and defensive league, but it has taken a new identity to start 2013. Why? It’s not that less elite defensive players are in the league; it’s that there has never been a time in SEC history when so many quarterbacks have been playing at this elite level. Johnny Manziel, Aaron Murray, Zach Mettenberger, AJ McCarron, Connor Shaw and even Bo Wallace, among others, are playing at elite levels. Sure there are more up-tempo offenses like Texas A&M, Auburn and Ole Miss that add wrinkles, but you still have to have an elite signal caller running it effectively and efficiently. The SEC isn’t changing its identity; the quarterbacks are just playing at an elite level through four weeks.
Related: SEC scoring offenses
New coaches: The SEC’s four new head coaches are a combined 9-6, headlined by 3-1 Arkansas and 3-1 Auburn. Tennessee is 2-2 and Kentucky is 1-2. Auburn still looks like the team – as projected before the season – to have the biggest turnaround. The Tigers could still win eight games. Who knows when Arkansas, Tennessee or Kentucky will all win again, as all three face absolutely brutal schedules. All four teams look better than last season.
Related: New coaches had a tough weekend
More quality losses than quality wins: Is the SEC heads and shoulders above every league in 2013? That’s certainly debatable, but through four weeks, the conference has more quality losses than quality wins. The quality wins range from TCU, Virginia Tech and Texas, while the quality losses are to Clemson, Miami, Oregon, Oklahoma State, Louisville and Rutgers. The SEC still possesses up to four teams that can win a BCS National Championship, more than any conference in the country. It’s not that the SEC isn’t elite this year, but there is a slight drop off in overall talent compared to last year. And it’s only logical because of so much talent lost to the NFL Draft. Remember, the SEC East and West had as many or more players drafted than every conference had selections. You can’t just replenish all that talent in one year. Are you buying or selling the SEC winning a BCS Championship this year?
Related: SEC Heisman Race
Who we thought they were: Known elite players are headlining the SEC. Last year, Johnny Manziel, Todd Gurley and TJ Yeldon came out of nowhere; this year, there is no Johnny Football, except Johnny Football. But the known commodities in Manziel, Aaron Murray, Todd Gurley, Jeremy Hill, Mike Evans and Jordan Matthews, among a vast array and an innumerable amount of others, are headlining the league’s talent, at least through four weeks. Maybe that guy hasn’t emerged yet; maybe he has shown flashes and will start his breakout in the upcoming week five. But so far – they were who we thought they were.
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