10 things I'm absolutely overreacting to after Week 1 in and around the SEC
Just when you think the SEC had changed its slogan to “It just means 1 more loss,” Bo Nix saved the day — and maybe Gus’ job.
There’s no slowing the Bo train now.
Not after Nix’s final drive — from his 4th-and-3 run to his 26-yard game-winning dagger to Seth Williams with 9 seconds left that stunned No. 11 Oregon. It was the stuff of legend.
True freshman. First start. Ranked opponent. I’m not sure there is an overreaction that would qualify as such. I’ll give it the ol’ college try.
Here are 10 things I’m absolutely overreacting to after a wild Week 1 in and around the SEC.
10. Alabama’s linebackers: Oh, no!
I’m not overreacting to them. They’re fine. Heck, they’re better than fine. Bama’s 4 inside linebacker backups all arrived in Tuscaloosa as top 10 recruits at their position.
Shocking trend, I know. Alabama’s freshmen almost always are better than everybody else’s freshmen, and they’re usually better than most teams’ seniors.
So I’m overreacting to you, you mighty naysayer and portender of doom.
Yes, losing Dylan Moses and Joshua McMillon hurts. And it would be a goal killer for most programs. In 49 states, that’s football. But this is Alabama.
Trevor Lawrence might be able to take advantage of their inexperience, but your quarterback can’t.
9. Trevor Lawrence threw 2 INTs. Over-rated, over-rated …
I saw a lot of this nonsense Thursday night on Twitter. As usual, the stupidest opinion of the night came from the guy who shouted to the world Johnny Manziel was going dominate the NFL.
Did Trevor Lawrence blow the Heisman last night? Next on @undisputed
— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) August 30, 2019
I have nobody to blame but myself for actually searching “Trevor Lawrence.”
I’m too damn old to make such a stupid mistake. Won’t happen again.
Speaking of Lawrence, this was epic. After he threw an INT, he delivered a TD-saving tackle. I hadn’t seen him hit anybody that hard since the intramural basketball game.
— Kevin Boilard (@247KevinBoilard) August 30, 2019
8. Justin Fields is going to win the Heisman!
I haven’t seen people this excited since Zion’s first dunk at Midnight Madness.
Fields’ performance Saturday against #CometoTheFAU was about as meaningful as an exhibition, too, but on a serious note, on his first 4 possessions as a Buckeye, he showed the skills that had almost everybody in Athens so amped last year.
Possession 1: Fields ran for a 51-yard TD on a perfectly read and executed zone-read. We knew he could do that.
Possession 2: He followed with a 25-yard TD pass. Not a ton of evidence on that.
Possession 3: He threw a 32-yard TD pass.
Possession 4: He threw a 29-yard post route for another TD — setting a career-high in the process. Last season Fields was 27-for-39 for 328 yards and 4 TD throws.
It was, dare I say it, rather Tua-esque.
Fields finished with 4 TD passes and 295 total yards.
This guy is going to make me like the Buckeyes, isn’t he?
7. Unless Jacob Eason does …
Anything you can do, I can do better …
That’s going to be Eason’s season-long theme. And it didn’t take Georgia’s original 5-star gun-slinger long to start the chorus, either.
Up 7-0, Eason threw a 50-yard laser on the first play of Washington’s second possession.
Eason was spectacular, showcasing that rifle right arm that made him all the rage 3 years ago. He finished 27-for-36 for 347 yards and 4 TDs.
He’ll keep Washington in the Playoff race, and if he continues to play like this, he’ll be in the conversation for one of the first QBs off the board in the 2020 NFL Draft.
6. Long live offseason optimism
We all get caught up in the hype. It’s hard not to. If a football coach can’t motivate, he isn’t a football coach for long.
So we buy into better schemes, new staff, upgraded talent, the next wave and pretty soon, we are legitimately wondering whether Mizzou can lose a record-breaking QB yet win 10 games. Whether Kentucky can lose 2 of the best players in program history and actually be better. We understand that Ole Miss lost 4 pass-catchers who are now in the NFL, but RichRod! We know that defense couldn’t stop anybody last year, but Mike MacIntyre!
Then Week 1 arrives, and the first dose of reality tastes every bit as terrible as Pepto-Bismol.
Ole Miss is in for a long year.
— Matt Hinton (@MattRHinton) August 31, 2019
5. Tried to tell you about South Carolina
All offseason, I put South Carolina on upset alert in Week 1.
“Crazy” was probably the nicest reaction I got.
There were multiple factors. First, UNC wasn’t nearly as bad as its 2-9 record last year indicated. More than half of the losses were 1-score games. That’s coaching. Second, they replaced Larry Fedora with Mack Brown. That’s a significant upgrade. And third, I’m not nearly as sold on Jake Bentley as a lot of people are.
Now, it gets interesting. Bentley threw 2 more interceptions Saturday — after an offseason devoted to protecting the football.
Tavien Feaster and Rico Dowdle both averaged more than 5 yards per carry. All Bentley had to do was just play well. Not great. Just well. He barely completed 50 percent of his passes, the most glaring miss on South Carolina’s next-to-last possession, when he air-mailed an open receiver in the end zone.
I’ve seen enough. Will Muschamp hasn’t. He’s not going to pull the plug and go to Ryan Hilinski yet. Alabama visits in 2 weeks. That’s not fair to any freshman not named Lawrence.
But change is coming.
4. The 4 Playoff teams are …
I should just overreact to how ludicrous it is to pick 4 teams after 60 minutes of football. Until Week 10, let’s just operate with that understanding, OK.
- Ohio State
I’m not going to bury the Pac-12. Washingon looked great and Oregon probably should have beaten Auburn. The Ducks wore down. No insult, considering how nasty Auburn’s defense is.
3. Hey, didn’t you used to be the mighty SEC?
We’ve seen worse opening acts.
I had to remind myself of that. In 2016, the SEC lost 6 nonconference games in Week 1.
Still, 4 losses and a couple of close calls is not exactly setting the tone.
The world views the SEC differently this year. You can thank Clemson for that.
It’s all fun and games, but also remember this: The SEC’s 6 ranked teams all won in Week 1, OK. The top half of this league, the half that matters, hasn’t gone away. If Week 1 is any indication, it’s stronger than last year.
2. The $26.6 million throw
Is that an overreaction?
Maybe Gus Malzahn really could go 6-6 or 7-5 against that schedule and survive. But he certainly bought himself some peace of mind Saturday night.
His quarterback, the guy he recruited, picked to start and stayed with, delivered the first of what Auburn hopes are 100 magic moments.
Without using Google as a cheat code, I’m struggling to come up with a better Week 1 freshman debut comeback than the one Bo Nix delivered.
And here’s the thing: Nix will be the first to say he didn’t even play that well.
1. Rocky times
I didn’t see that coming. I don’t know who could have.
Georgia State just delivered the biggest shock of Week 1 and officially started the clock on Jeremy Pruitt’s tenure.
Anybody have Greg Schiano’s number? What, too soon?
Until next week …