First impressions on every SEC game in Week 3
There are a whole lot of SEC teams who should be feeling good heading into Week 3.
Why? All 14 have victories. Even Vandy pulled off a comeback win late on the road to get on the board in the Clark Lea era.
Does that mean there could be a bit of overconfidence heading into Week 3? Perhaps. The league is a combined 23-4 right now.
Of course, that can’t last forever. That’ll change this week. It’s the first time in 2021 that we’ll have multiple SEC games, and hey, how fitting that we’ll have our first Saturday SEC on CBS game, too.
Let’s dig into all the early Week 3 impressions:
Alabama at Florida — How do these inexperienced QBs handle these fronts?
That goes for Bryce Young, Emory Jones and Anthony Richardson. There’s a combined 4 starts between those 3 guys. That’s still worth remembering in a game like this. You cannot assume that they’ll all wilt in that setting, nor can you assume that they’ll overcome guys like Zachary Carter, Jeremiah Moon, Will Anderson (health permitting) and Christian Harris. That’s the difference in this game. If Jones makes pre-determined reads against an Alabama front who will speed him up, this will get ugly. And as great as Young as been at escaping the rush, Saturday in The Swamp against Todd Grantham’s pressure will be his toughest challenge to date. Then again, he passed both tests with flying colors:
Bryce Young under pressure this season
♨ 234 yards
♨ 4 TDs (1st)
♨ 141.2 passer rating (1st) pic.twitter.com/35Dtakudtt
— PFF College (@PFF_College) September 12, 2021
New Mexico at Texas A&M — now is when Zach Calzada should look the part
I don’t want to assume anything here, but if I had to guess, I’d say that A&M plays the long game with Haynes King and doesn’t rush him back against a bad New Mexico team. That means we should see Calzada comfortable like he was on the final 2 drives on Saturday against Colorado. Without a pass rush and with A&M able to run the ball more effectively, there should be bigger throwing windows. Calzada looked like 2017 Kellen Mond vs. UCLA in the majority of Saturday’s contest. I doubt that’ll be the case against New Mexico, but don’t sleep on the 2-0 Lobos, who are led by former Kentucky quarterback Terry Wilson.
South Carolina at Georgia — Kirby Smart’s defense should feast
I could really just copy and paste this for any matchup this year, but think about how well this sets up for UGA, regardless of who starts at quarterback for South Carolina. Assuming it’s Luke Doty after sitting against ECU with the foot injury, what does Doty do best? Run. What did South Carolina struggle to do for the majority of Saturday’s game against ECU? Run. Georgia, so far, allowed an average of 65 rushing yards in its first 2 contests, and that’s after leading the nation in that category last year. Doty and Kevin Harris were stymied in this matchup in 2020, though that was with a different coaching staff. Unfortunately for them, Georgia’s monsters on the interior (Jordan Davis and Devonte Wyatt) are still in red and black.
Chattanooga at Kentucky — Let’s see the other UK targets
I’m here for all the Wan’Dale Robinson fun. Trust me. I’ll continue to bang the drum that he’s one of the most exciting players in the sport, especially in Liam Coen’s offense. Josh Ali is also emerging into quite the threat too. But let’s see Will Levis get those other targets involved because they’re going to need them when the schedule gets tougher. Those 2 guys have:
- 53% of the catches
- 60% of the receiving touchdowns
- 66% of the receiving yards
Kentucky is 2-0 with an offense that’s averaging 40 points through 2 games vs. FBS competition. Nobody is saying that’s a bad thing. But can Kentucky get the tight ends more involved? Can Isaiah Epps carve out a role? One would think against Chattanooga, Levis will have all day to throw. The summer enrollee needs to continue to use opportunities like this to develop that rapport with those non-Robinson/Ali targets.
Southeast Missouri at Mizzou — Hopefully Tyler Badie gets some rest
Man, he earned it. He averaged 26 touches in his first 2 games. This is a guy who averaged 7.6 touches in 10 games last year as the change-of-pace, pass-catching back behind Larry Rountree. It’s clear that Eli Drinkwitz wants Badie getting a ton of work, but at 195 pounds, he’s not built like Rountree was. Drinkwitz said that, and I’d be surprised if Badie continued on that pace even though he looks like Mizzou’s best player so far. Now would be a nice time for Drinkwitz to see what he has in Elijah Young in a favorable matchup against an FCS foe.
Tennessee Tech at Tennessee — It’s Hendon Hooker time … right?
Man, I hope. Josh Heupel didn’t commit to anyone after Joe Milton missed the second half with a leg injury. That would suggest there’s a good chance that we see Hooker, who looked solid in relief for Milton. The offense ran better, there weren’t repeated overthrows and Hooker was even more mobile than Milton. The Vols at least had a chance to win late against Pitt. With Milton out there, that game would’ve gotten ugly in the second half. As intriguing of a player as Milton is with that cannon, now would be a nice time to get Hooker some confidence in the system in a favorable matchup at home.
Georgia Southern at Arkansas — Avoid the Texas hangover
Arkansas has the entire college football world on notice. We saw an outpouring of emotion from that program after demolishing the Longhorns, and understandably so. At this time last year, the Hogs were in search of their first SEC win in over 1,000 days. So against Georgia Southern, a triple-option team that can lull a defense to sleep, Arkansas had better not show up hungover. Coming back against Rice in the middle of the third quarter was one thing. Coming back that late against a team who controls time of possession like that is totally different. Arkansas should lean heavily on those veteran defensive players to avoid a sleepy start.
MSU at Memphis — A great matchup awaits those MSU corners
Martin Emerson and Emmanuel Forbes are the best cornerback duo that not enough people are talking about. In their first road game together in 2021, they’ll have an interesting showdown in Memphis against Calvin Austin III and Sean Dykes. Why do I say that? That duo combined for a whopping 383 yards and 5 touchdowns in a shootout win on Saturday. Austin is the small, speedy wideout and Dykes is the more prototypical big body frame who plays tight end but can catch passes anywhere (roughly 1/4 of his snaps were in the slot). How does Zach Arnett defend that? His defense looked excellent pretty much since the start of the fourth quarter against Louisiana Tech. With MSU’s continued offensive struggles, MSU’s corners might have some heavy lifting to do at Memphis.
Central Michigan at LSU — Now would be a good time for the ground game to show up
Then again, I said that same thing about McNeese and then LSU ran for a whopping 3.5 yards per carry. Yeah, it’s bad. Watch LSU’s offensive line for a series and you’ll see it. It doesn’t protect Max Johnson well, and it isn’t creating those significant running lanes. That’s a bad combination. Against Jim McElwain’s squad, LSU should theoretically have the advantage up front. Badie torched Central Michigan for north of 200 rushing yards. It shouldn’t matter that John Emery is out or that LSU is without multiple starting offensive linemen. The Tigers have too much talent to have averaged just 87.5 yards without a single run longer than 23 yards in their first 2 games.
Stanford at Vanderbilt — Clark Lea’s first Power 5 game will be … telling
Credit Lea’s squad for fighting back on the road and winning its first game in the 2020s decade. That showed that his team is buying what he’s selling. Or at the very least, it showed it has more to offer than losing by 3 scores to a bad FCS team. Against Stanford, who just clobbered USC, that’ll be a different beast. How do you slow down Nathaniel Peat, who ran all over USC? And what about sustaining drives against a defense who just made Kedon Slovis a totally inefficient quarterback on his home field?
Hey, if Ken Seals is gonna look off safeties and make on-target throws like this, Vandy will have a fighting chance in this one:
Another look at the Vanderbilt touchdown – Ken Seals to Chris Pierce pic.twitter.com/3JrUZ6VXlV
— Chad Bishop (@MrChadBishop) September 12, 2021
Tulane at Ole Miss — Is this the toughest test for the Ole Miss defense so far?
According to Oklahoma, yes, Tulane is legit. Quarterback Michael Pratt is a stud, and if Ole Miss can’t get pressure on him like Oklahoma struggled to do, he can turn this into an upset bid. DJ Durkin’s defense has to come out like it did against Malik Cunningham in the opener. Cunningham was sped up so much that he couldn’t go through his progressions. How Ole Miss responds to 2 games in that smaller window will be interesting. Can Chance Campbell and Lakia Henry fuel another lopsided win to give Ole Miss 3 consecutive solid defensive performances for the first time in the Lane Kiffin era? Against Pratt and Co., that’s no gimme.
Auburn at Penn State — Bo Nix’s road woes will be put to the ultimate test
Ah, we’ve reached the point in the program where I remind you that the Auburn quarterback is a much different quarterback in true road games than he is at home. You know. In case you haven’t heard. In Nix’s career in true road games, he’s got:
- 54.5% accuracy
- 5.7 yards per attempt
- 9-10 TD-INT
- 105.5 QB rating
- 2.3 yards per carry
- 4-5 record
So now apply that to Penn State. Like, apply it to a Penn State program that has an elite defense. Also apply it to a program that will have its first White Out since 2019. College GameDay will be in the house, too. If there was ever a chance for Nix to show that he really has turned the corner, Saturday is it.