Five biggest takeaways from the 2013 season’s first quarter

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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.

Photo Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

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COMMENTS

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  • good questions Jon. Try this easy exercise. Rank the SEC vs. other Conference 2013 games in this way.

    2013 MATCHUPS BASED ON LAST YEAR’S FINISHING RANK
    2012 SEC rank 11th Tennessee (score) vs. 2012 Pac 12 rank 1st Oregon (score)

    2012 SEC rank ( ) th Mississippi (score) vs. 2012 Big 12 rank ( ) Texas ( score)

    and so on

    and so on

    If you do this the SEC still looks dominant

  • Do you really think Missouri has a chance? They haven’t exactly played anyone. Before last year people kept talking about how their high powered offense was going to make some noise in the SEC and they didn’t really do anything. And here they are again playing nobodies and putting up big numbers

    • Seth, thanks for asking the question. I coached including the D-1 for 20 years and my experience was that groups of young men adopt goals and go after them with less than a predictable devotion. A lot of sportswriters and fans try to size up the talent and extrapolate, but the mind and the heart affect the outcome more. Yes, I believe both Mississippi and Missouri can still win their divisions. Time for improvement is 8 weeks, but time to become good enough to win it may have already passed for some. Your exact question about Missouri?, Yes, they can run the table in the East and win the big game, if they go all in right now.

    • I agree, Seth, Missouri still has not shown up on my radar as an SEC team. Texas A&M had their signature win over Alabama last year to make themselves noticed as an SEC team, but when will Missouri have that win that makes everyone else in the conference recognize them as an SEC squad?

  • Seth, don’t act like Old Mist has had anything to brag about as of late. Real Talk. If i remember correctly the last time we visited the Grove we beat you boys. And yes, we were big 12 then. 2007 my friend. So mind your business when Wolfman is simply responding to the article. He didn’t mention Mizzou once and you still wanna talk smack about the tigers. As a matter of fact, (as usual) there’s not one mention of Mizzou or any their players in this article. Big whoop the Rebels can puff out their chest cause they beat Texas and Vanderbilt. We’ll see you boys later on in the year.

    • Tap the brakes there buddy. He just mentioned that you guys haven’t played a Top 75 team yet. Mizzou looks good so far. We’ll see, and we get to play later this year. Also, in 2007, y’all were ranked #1 at one point, and we were just a few weeks from firing our head coach. So good job winning that game.

    • What is “Old Mist?”

  • My bad. I did see Missouri mentioned in the first paragraph after all. BUT, I still stand behind my points Seth: Big Whoop about Ole Miss beating Texas and Vandy and yes we beat yall in the Grove in 2007. The Rebels don’t scare the Tigers in any type of way.

    • 2007 was a long time ago

    • He can’t puff out his chest because they have beat Vandy and Texas (two teams people have actually heard of before), but yet mizzou fans can talk about how y’all are gonna walk the dog in the SEC?? And don’t try to defend it, because every article on here there’s one of y’all gettin all rowdy because y’all don’t feel like Mizzou is gettin respect, and y’all’s offense is the best in the nation, and blah blah blah blah. And congrats on beating Ole Miss in 2007. Shall we start talking about all the SEC accomplished in 2007? Didn’t think so. This is 2013. Where Ole Miss has played and beat two legit teams. And mizzou has yet to play anyone worth talking about. Simple as that.

      • Thats the thing Wes, he chose to make his points about Mizzou. And how we don’t deserve to be mentioned in the SEC Hunt. He wrote more about Mizzou than Jon. And yes, I take offense to his approach.

        • I understand that. But bringing up something from 2007 is pretty irrelevant to what he was talking about

        • I’m just not seeing a point of contention here at all. Mississippi looks great, the media recognizes it. Missouri looks great, the media recognizes it. Both Missouri and Mississippi beat Texas in their last meeting. I really can’t say if Vanderbilt was better than Indiana or Toledo 2013 or not, nothing negative intended. Over all Mississippi fans 2013 have been appropriately optimistic, Missouri fans actually have been overly pessimistic till recently. It’s not accurate to say that Missouri fans are braggin about beating everyone in 2013, in some ways I’d like to see that. It is not appropriate for any fan base to tell another fan base to withhold confidence from their team, not in their first year nor in their 150th. year.

      • I’ve been seeing the same thing, the reason everyone gives these mizzou guys on here hell is because they want to bring up games from last decade which mean absolutely nothing.

        • I would have written that Missouri has a 23-16-2 record against their SEC brothers all time.
          Let it mean whatever it means to whoever wants to read it. It’s no more important to talk about ancient history than last week’s game. Next week’s game is going to be decided by the coaches and athletes, not by the fans..

        • I agree so lets just talk bout this season, and while that may be mizou’s all-time record against sec teams which teams were the wins against? Cause if you were beating lower level sec teams not quite the same as beating the big boys.

  • what is your separation between the top four and South Carolina? and I’m not as impressed with Mississippi as Jon. but I’m not as informed either. as far as Missouri goes games 6, 7 and 8 will tell us a lot more about Missouri than the first 5 games. and even if we lose all three games 11 and 12 will be our defining moments. that’s you Mississippi and I don’t expect to lose that one.

    • Who’s Mississippi?? Look bud, you’re in the SEC now. You’ll need to learn the names of your conference opponents. Anyone with any football knowledge calls us Ole Miss. No-one calls LSU, Louisiana State or calls Penn St., Pennsylvania State. Get with it. See you in late November.

      • I admit to having some trouble calling the able young men at Mississippi “Ole” anything, and I have an equal amount of trouble calling Missouri “Mizzou”. I like the real names of the States, these names just mean more to me. I think of the Mississippi athletes as standing for the University of the state, and I think of Mississippi State young men as standing for the unique history and mission of that institution. It’s not withholding respect, it is a broader recognition, for me anyway.

  • GBO4LIFE, you are right. We took our lumps last year and may take them again this year, and because of that fact, the Tiger nation is here to celebrate ANY type of good/positive news about the Tigers here on SDS. Ole Miss and several other teams in the league have been just as mediocre as we have been thru the decades, and all of us are fighting to grow from that reality. Since he chose NOT to talk about why the Rebels will stay in the SEC Hunt and decided to trash talk Mizzou instead, I’m standing up for my Tigers.

    • I don’t blame you for that

    • No-one trashed Mizzou. He said that you guys have put up very impressive numbers, but they’ve been against Murray St., Toledo, & Indiana. You’ll be 4-0 after Arkansas St., then you get Vandy, Georgia, UF, & Carolina in consecutive weeks. Y’all come out of that 6-2 or 7-1, and everyone will be talking. Until then, just be excited to be undefeated…..just like us Ole Miss fans……for at least 2 more days anyway!

      • stay undefeated so the Rebs and Tigers can have a white hot spot light in a few weeks. because the media would have to learn to spell all those new names. grin.

  • Jon, I’m confused as to how you can say A&M is in the national title hunt, but Carolina isn’t right now. If Carolina were to win out, which is very plausible, we would be right square in the middle of the championship talk. Yes we need Georgia to lose twice (doubtful its going to happen) in order to make it to Atlanta, but not going to Atlanta isn’t the end of the world for us. Our biggest ally right now, the team that we need to win more than anyone else, sadly is our dear old friends up in Clemsux. If Clemson avoids pulling a Clemson and comes into Columbia Nov. 30th undefeated, they are mostly likely going to be sitting at no. 1 or 2 in the polls. If we get the win over an undefeated Clemsux in the last week of the season things could get quite interesting depending on who is left undefeated. Remember in college football it’s all about what you did last weekend.

    • Just basing strictly off the eye test, is Carolina a national championship contender? You could also argue Florida is in the picture, too, but we assume the offense isn’t good enough. Texas A&M has the best offense in the country, and knowing their schedule, they should torch every team not named LSU. The Aggies are great at something, which I would argue South Carolina isn’t great on either side of the ball. Balanced? Sure. Just my thoughts. Of course this changes week-to-week. It’s inevitable. Let’s see what week five holds.

    • Personally, I’d say the thought of either team making it is about nill. Yea, it’s not unheard of for a 1-loss SEC team to make the title game, but when they do they typically start the season off highly ranked.
      Swooping in from #10 or #12 is just… yea, probably not gonna happen.