Debate: Biggest SEC disappointment through Week 2
The first weekend, it appeared the SEC may be building toward another season of national dominance.
That may still be the case. But, at least for one week, there’s a lot of frustration among several SEC fan bases. Arkansas and Tennessee lost non-conference games. Mississippi State, South Carolina and Vanderbilt lost SEC games. And a few other teams didn’t look good in victory.
While we start to turn our attention toward a pretty terrific Week 3 schedule, it seems like an appropriate time to argue about the biggest SEC disappointments to date. Our staff debates:
WHICH SEC PLAYER, COACH OR TEAM HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT?
Jon Cooper (@JonSDS): Auburn Tigers
Without a doubt, the most disappointing team through two weeks is Auburn. Although the team stands 2-0, 2015 Auburn isn’t anything like other teams Gus Malzahn has led as a head coach or offensive coordinator. The offense is sputtering with below-average quarterback play from Jeremy Johnson, and the defense is continually put in situations with its back against the wall. Penciled in as the SEC’s preseason College Football Playoff team, Auburn has been the biggest disappointment so far.
Christopher Smith (@csmithSDS): Halted momentum for Arkansas and Tennessee
Auburn is the obvious answer, with some combination of the team as a whole, Jeremy Johnson, D’haquille Williams and Roc Thomas. Vanderbilt’s loss to Western Kentucky fueled the narrative of the Commodores as the conference laughingstock. The opening-week weather delays and cancellations were disappointing as well.
But already we’re forgetting how much attention and momentum the Razorbacks and Volunteers received as preseason top 25 teams coming off huge bowl wins. Coach Bret Bielema and coach Butch Jones are entering their third seasons in Fayetteville and Knoxville, respectively.
Both fan bases held optimistic hopes about competing in their respective SEC divisions this year. A smattering of national media members have joined in backing those programs, with Matt Hayes of The Sporting News even ranking the Hogs at No. 4 in his way-too-early top 25 in January.
Losing to Toledo was embarrassing for Arkansas, and losing to Oklahoma was unnecessary for Tennessee. Both teams are 0-0 in the SEC, but expectations already need to be re-thought.
Brad Crawford (@BCrawfordSDS): Jeremy Johnson
Heading into the season, with as much hype as he received nationally, I honestly thought Jeremy Johnson would be the SEC’s touchdown leader at this point without a single interception as the leader of a red-hot offense. Hardly. Auburn hasn’t yet found its rhythm because Johnson’s lack of confidence seems to have trickled its way throughout Gus Malzahn’s unit. Peyton Barber’s passed the century mark consecutive weeks – the only player who has kept this team 2-0. South Carolina quarterback Connor Mitch is a close second for biggest disappointment, though not nearly as much was expected out of the redshirt sophomore by comparison.
Nick Cole (@NickColeSports): Arkansas Razorbacks
While it is easy to look in Auburn’s direction after its underwhelming game against Jacksonville State, the Tigers are still 2-0. So I’ll instead turn the focus of my early-season disappointment onto the Arkansas Razorbacks.
For a team that received plenty of preseason love following a fantastic end to the 2014 season, it is hard to classify losing a Week 2 non-conference game to Toledo as anything but disappointing. Hey, listen, Toledo is one of the top programs in the MAC and a fine football team, but a true Top 25 team finds a way to win that game on quasi-home turf in Little Rock.
Perhaps it was the way that the Razorbacks lost that made it so disappointing. arkansas accumulated more than 500 yards of total offense, but managed to score just one touchdown. And for a team that was hyped to have one of the best rushing attacks in the league, averaging 3.3 yards on 31 carries against Toledo just isn’t getting it done. We expect better, Arkansas.