Biggest story line for each SEC team in Week 1
After a preseason spent generating questions for teams to answer on the field, these are the most interesting story lines for each SEC team going into Week 1:
Story line: What will the Crimson Tide’s plan be at quarterback against Wisconsin?
On Monday, Nick Saban indicated that three quarterbacks would see practice reps this week and did not rule out the possibility of playing more than one on Saturday. The real plan is anyone’s guess at this point.
Story line: How does the loss of RB Jonathan Williams impact what was supposed to be one of the best rushing attacks in the league?
Sure, we’ve already been talking about this since the time his injury occurred, but it is now time to see the offense put into motion without him so we can start to figure things out. Alex Collins should be a very solid lead back, but how does the domino effect impact what could be a special season for Bret Bielema’s Hogs?
Story line: How will Will Muschamp’s defense hold up against Bobby Petrino’s Louisville offense in Atlanta?
Fans have anticipated what a combination of Gus Malzahn’s offense and Will Muschamp’s defense might look like in action this year. Things will need to be clicking on all cylinders right away if the Tigers expect to beat a very capable Louisville team.
Story line: Will the McElwain era usher in some offensive excitement right away?
Jim McElwain was brought to Gainesville to restore what was once a proud offensive powerhouse. Gators fans aren’t expecting miracles right away, but hanging a good amount of points on New Mexico State in a blow-out win sure would help everyone feel better about things.
Story line: Just who is this Greyson Lambert and is he any good at being a quarterback?
Georgia fans know the name and are expecting good things, but most of them couldn’t pick him out of lineup of random college kids. He’s just so new to the program after arriving at fall camp following a transfer from Virginia, and he’s now atop the depth chart for the favorite to win the SEC East.
Story line: What will the Wildcats’ identity be on defense this season?
I think most Kentucky fans feel pretty good about where the Wildcats are offensively as the season approaches, but their hopes for a winning season likely rest in the hands of a defensive unit that lost leaders Bud Dupree, Za’Darius Smith and Mike Douglas.
Story line: Will QB Brandon Harris show enough consistency and mastery of the offense to instill confidence about the Tigers’ Week 2 trip to Mississippi State?
There is likely to be very little drama in the Tigers opener against McNeese State, so the focus is likely to be on the performance of the sophomore quarterback.
Story line: Will Dak Prescott get his Heisman campaign off on the right foot in Hattiesburg?
This isn’t your older brother’s Southern Mississippi team to which the Bulldogs are paying a visit on Saturday. A once proud program has fallen on hard times, leaving Mississippi State fans to likely worry more about strong individual and unit performances than actually winning the game.
Story line: Who will be catching passes from Maty Mauk?
The two-time defending SEC East champions have themselves quite the softy for a season-opener. They return an experienced passer and a 1,000-yard rusher, but folks are curious to see who will be making plays for the Tigers, given that no returning receiver has more than five receptions.
Story line: How will each quarterback perform in a “real game” setting?
Chad Kelly has been named the starter, but even Hugh Freeze acknowledged that basically means he’ll take the first snap of the game. The Rebels will surely want a look at all three quarterbacks competing for the job against a soft FCS opponent (UT-Martin).
Story line: Is the South Carolina defense really going to be any better this season?
We’ve spent a whole offseason talking about how bad the 2014 Gamecocks defense was and the steps Steve Spurrier and staff were taking to correct it. They will have a prime opportunity to show off their new approach against a North Carolina team that is capable of scoring plenty of points.
Story line: How will the Vols secondary fare after losing two starters for an extended period of time?
After entering fall camp as a perceived team strength, the injury bug bit the Vols secondary in August, leaving them without the services of nickelback Rahaan Gaulden (foot) for the season and senior safety LaDarrell McNeil (neck) for an extended period of time.
Story line: Representing the SEC in one of the biggest out-of-conference matchups of the week, how will the Aggies stack up against one of the Pac-12’s best?
The Texas A&M/Arizona State game will be the only SEC/Pac-12 meeting of the 2015 regular season. After struggling as a conference during the 2014 bowl season, it is a prime opportunity for the league to re-assert itself.
Story line: Can the Commodores avoid a repeat of last year’s nightmare 37-7 loss to Temple in this year’s Thursday night opener against Western Kentucky?
Year 2 of the Derek Mason era desperately needs a better start than Year 1 received. Western Kentucky has a dangerous offense, and is more than capable of putting the hurt on Vanderbilt if the Commodores are not up to the task.