Every Monday, we’ll be looking at Saturday superlatives. We’ll recognize the teams and players who stood out before we officially turn the page to next Saturday…but we’ll also recognize the most disappointing units of the entire weekend.
Isn’t it great to have football back? Regardless of whether your team was on the short end of the stick or is sitting 1-0, the season is finally here. And it’s beautiful.
Here are week one superlatives:
Best game: Ole Miss at Vanderbilt
Maybe it was opening night, or maybe it was that both teams refused to lie down for the other, but Ole Miss-Vanderbilt was the most thrilling game of the weekend. We may have witnessed a top five game on opening night. Incredible game and incredible finish.
Most impressive team(s): South Carolina and LSU
Based purely on week one showings, it would be hard not to argue LSU and South Carolina as the two favorites in the SEC. Carolina looked like a legitimate championship contender, and if LSU plays offense like it did Saturday, they could march right through the West, including Tuscaloosa in November. Although the defense will need to gel before Auburn in two weeks. The Gamecocks and Tigers look like the SEC’s two most complete teams exiting week one, as both teams are led with great trench play.
Best Offense: LSU
Aside from teams playing FCS and lesser opponents, LSU’s offense stood out the most. They didn’t score the most points, nor did they rack up the most yards. But Cam Cameron’s impact was very obvious, and Zach Mettenberger’s play increases optimism surrounding the Tigers. The Tigers rolled up 448 yards of total offense, including 197 on the ground. TCU was the Big 12’s best defense in 2012. LSU ran 80 plays Saturday; they ran 80 plays in only one game last season. Tip o’ the hat, Cam Cameron.
Best Defense: Florida
The one thing we’ve learned about Florida is that Will Muschamp will put a top five defense on the field. Toledo isn’t Oregon, but they averaged over 30 points last year and had nine returning starters. Muschamp understands the SEC is won or lost in the trenches, and he has arguably the SEC’s best defensive line, led by DT Dominique Easley, who wreaked havoc against Toledo. Florida welcomes back CB Loucheiz Purify and LB Antonio Morrison against Miami.
Biggest immediate position concern: Georgia O-line
Georgia’s O-line play was lacking. Clemson exposed the Bulldogs when they mixed up their blitzing schemes, and the Tigers’ speed rusher exposed the left tackle play – Kenarious Gates and Kolton Houston both got beat. Yes, Georgia had 500-plus yards of offense, but with South Carolina and Jadeveon Clowney – arguably the best D-line in the SEC, things get tougher this week.
Related: Georgia WR out for the season
Biggest letdown: Alabama offense
Taking nothing away from Virginia Tech’s tenacious defense, the Alabama offense has issues to fix. The root of the problem is the O-line. The running game yielded just 96 yards, while AJ McCarron finished 10 of 23 for 110 yards, one TD and one INT. There was no push up front, and Tech took full advantage of three new starters on the Tide’s O-line. Thanks to Christion Jones and special teams, the offense had a freebee, but there are issues to be fixed during the bye week.
Best offensive player: Georgia RB Todd Gurley
The Beast of the East is back and better than anyone. Although Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins will get the ink, Gurley was the best player on the field. He looks like Jamal Lewis chewing up and spitting out defenses. He carried 12 times for 154 yards and two touchdowns, and he missed half the game with a quad injury.
Best defensive player: Robenson Therezie, DB, Auburn
Auburn needs someone in the secondary with a nose for the football, and Therezie looks like that guy. He recorded two INTs, three passes defended and seven total tackles to help seal a seven-point opening week win against Washington State.
Biggest surprise: Arkansas
Arkansas came out guns blazing and were very impressive. Most had Arkansas tabbed to win five games, but after week one, opinions may have changed. The defense racked up four sacks, and the offense posted 292 rushing yards. Nobody is ready to talk championships and Arkansas, but it won’t be long before Bret Bielema has the Hogs competing for a western crown.
Photo Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports