First impressions on every SEC game in Week 2
Let’s turn the page.
Week 1 is in the books, and for many SEC teams, it was a revealing start. We saw contenders look horrendous defensively (LSU and Florida) and we saw undisciplined teams let inferior teams hang around for too long (Georgia and Texas A&M). We saw historic performances (MSU) and continuations from last year (Tennessee).
That’ll certainly shape how we view Week 2. But at the same time, Week 1 is in the past. We have a new set of matchups to break down.
Based on the information that we have about each team in terms of healthy players and whatnot, here are my first impressions of each Week 2 matchup:
South Carolina vs. Florida — I have to think we’ll see Jaycee Horn on Kyle Pitts … right?
Ask Ole Miss about trying to stop the Florida tight end. It’s not fun. It’s even less fun when you continue to lose him in zone coverage. Shoot, even when Ole Miss went man on him, he still found his way to the end zone. That was one of the best offensive performances I’ve ever seen from a college tight end. Will Muschamp is too good of a defensive mind to treat Pitts like he’s a tight end. He’s not. At least not when he runs routes. Putting Horn, who is one of the top corners in the country, on Pitts sounds atypical, but he needs to be shadowed.
Then again, even press coverage with Pitts lined up split out wide didn’t really make a difference:
Kyle Pitts is a cheat code.
— PFF College (@PFF_College) September 26, 2020
Good luck, Muschamp.
Mizzou vs. Tennessee — I’m buying the Mizzou defense being a frustrating matchup
I ranked the Mizzou defense at No. 10 in the SEC this summer, and about a month later, I regretted it. I underestimated the talent that the Tigers have at all 3 levels of their defense, which also retained Ryan Walters from the previous regime. After seeing guys like Tyree Gillespie, Nick Bolton and Joshuah Bledsoe fly around the field and look the part against Alabama, I’m even more convinced that my initial impressions were wrong over the summer.
Tennessee needs to figure out its offensive identity in this one. The offensive numbers were a bit inflated from the Henry To’o To’o’s pick-6. Jarrett Guarantano needs to be sharper because while I like Eric Gray a lot, I’m not sure this backfield is quite ready to impose its will against a disciplined defense like Mizzou’s.
Ole Miss vs. Kentucky — This HAS to be a get-right game for the Kentucky offense
So I get that Florida and Kentucky are built differently, but after watching what the Gators did to that Ole Miss defense, well, let’s just say I think it’ll be a different matchup than what the Cats saw Saturday at Auburn. Kevin Steele’s defense adjusted well to what Kentucky wanted to do. Strangely, it seemed like the Cats somewhat lacked an offensive identity in Terry Wilson’s return to the starting lineup. They have to be able to run the ball and occasionally stretch the field. Those opportunities should be there against an Ole Miss defense that struggled immensely at tackling ball-carriers in the open field.
If it’s not a get-right game, Eddie Gran won’t be a popular man in Lexington.
Arkansas vs. MSU — Just in case Sam Pittman’s start wasn’t daunting enough…
Oh, remember how MSU looked like one of maybe 2 or 3 potential winnable games in the preseason for Arkansas? Well, now that’s the team that just passed for more yards than any SEC team in history, and it did so on the road against the defending national champs. Goodness, what a tough draw for Pittman’s squad. The good news is that Barry Odom is an exceptional defensive coordinator. I’d count on him making much better adjustments than the ones Bo Pelini made in his futile attempt to slow the Air Raid offense.
A word of advice for Arkansas that doesn’t need to be said at I’ll but I’ll say it anyways — don’t play man coverage for 60 minutes against that passing game. Or do that and watch MSU hang another 600 passing yards.
LSU vs. Vanderbilt — Don’t bail on Myles Brennan yet
It was always going to look worse. I say that as a Steve Ensminger believer, and perhaps equally important, a believer in Brennan. What we saw in his first career start was, in a way, to be expected. He didn’t process quickly enough. His footwork in the pocket isn’t nearly at the level that veterans like KJ Costello and Kyle Trask are at. But I still thought Brennan did OK in what turned into an uphill climb all afternoon with LSU unable to slow down Mike Leach’s Air Raid. Brennan won’t be in those spots as often Saturday.
We do, however, need to see more of those quick-hitting routes with him. He’s not going to make reads like Joe Burrow, obviously, and he doesn’t he have the awareness when things break down. His receivers aren’t on that level yet, either. But this is still a favorable matchup against a Vandy defense who looked good in Week 1 against Texas A&M, but really wasn’t tested against talented pass-catchers like the ones LSU will roll out. Give Brennan another week before you sell your stock.
LSU reprend espoir : passe de 33 yards de QB Myles Brennan pour WR Terrace Marshall. TD Tigers ! 🐯
LSU 31, Mississippi State 34pic.twitter.com/77KjAfzEHh
— TBP College Football (@thebluepennant) September 26, 2020
Texas A&M vs. Alabama — Man, A&M fans better hope the Vandy game was just “not wanting to show Nick Saban anything”
Because it wasn’t, look out. That Alabama defense is going to demolish A&M if it plays like it did Saturday. Not to take anything away from Vanderbilt, but goodness. Kellen Mond couldn’t find a go-to receiver, which was a major fear coming into this season after all that A&M lost with NFL Draft departures, injuries and opt-outs. Jhamon Ausbon’s absence was evident all night, and Derek Mason realized that his front 7 could actually stop A&M’s ground game. Granted, we didn’t really see Mond featured in the ground game until late.
If A&M can’t find any receivers who can get separation, which won’t be easy when one of those corners is Patrick Surtain, that’ll be another long day for Jimbo Fisher against his former boss.
Auburn vs. Georgia — Give me the “under”
I hate this matchup for both offenses, and that’s without knowing if JT Daniels is going to be medically cleared to play. While Auburn showed some offensive life in the second half, how much of that offense was Seth Williams making ridiculous plays in coverage? Williams is great, but I think doing that against Georgia’s defensive backs like Eric Stokes and Richard LeCounte is a different story, and I worry that Bo Nix won’t be given much time to throw against that Georgia front 7.
And on the flip side, Kevin Steele always finds a way. Against a Georgia offense that really doesn’t have an identity yet, this has potential to be a frustrating matchup for that ground game. That’s what really needs to get going for Georgia to have success, no matter who’s starting. I thought Auburn was outstanding defending an exceptional Kentucky offensive line. Georgia could need a home-run play or a pick-6 to get any sort of breathing room.
If you’re a fan of points, I don’t recommend this one. If you’re a fan of physical, defensive struggles with 2 of the better teams in the country, well, the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry should be just that.