Winners and losers after Week 1 in the SEC
That was fun, wasn’t it? Even if your particular squad came up short, SEC football was back on Saturday and it was … well, if not exactly glorious, it was certainly welcome. But of course, it was more welcome for those who showed up with their chin straps buckled and got down to business. Who was that? Glad you asked ….
Mike Leach/KJ Costello
It took a pirate to dream it and a grad transfer to make it a reality. The idea that State would bring an upset to bear at some point in the season wasn’t shocking, but who had Week 1? And who had that SEC record 623 passing yards down as a prediction? By the way, for those who assume you can’t win without balance, MSU rushed for 9 yards. And won at No. 6 LSU.
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) September 26, 2020
It was sort of lost in the MSU bombardment, but Kyle Trask was quite businesslike and efficient in passing for 416 yards and 6 touchdowns in the Gators’ 51-35 win over Ole Miss. In spite of KJ Costello’s great day, Trask and Matt Corral of Ole Miss led the SEC in passing efficiency.
The Ole Miss junior opened the season with 227 receiving yards on 10 catches against Florida. Florida rarely allowed teams to pass for 227 yards in 2019. But with 10 100-yard receivers and only one 100-yard rusher in Week 1, it’s a brave new world in the SEC.
Henry To’o To’o
The dude is a playmaker, and his pick six was literally the difference in UT’s 31-27 win over Carolina. Sub-shout out to Deandre Johnson, whose SEC leading 2.5 sacks weren’t exactly small potatoes, either.
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Henry To The House 🏠 pic.twitter.com/wEi3vqFuUZ
— Tennessee Athletics (@Vol_Sports) September 27, 2020
Vandy and Arkansas
Look, these guys aren’t going to win a ton this fall. But props to both for giving favored teams a heck of a difficult half (for Arkansas) and a game (for Vandy). Both showed more vigor on defense than was expected, and each showed flashes of offense. Moral victories? Probably.
The Auburn receiver made some gorgeous touchdown catches in the Tigers’ 29-13 win over Kentucky. Bo Nix finally had a good game against a decent defense, and Williams had a ton to do with that. His grab over Kelvin Joseph … well, see for yourself.
Grown man TD by Seth Williams!! Whew! pic.twitter.com/SV6nQUSDie
— KÏŁŁÄ ČÄM (@FTBeard1) September 26, 2020
On Saturday, 12 of 14 SEC teams passed for 200 yards in their openers. Last year, 8 of the 14 teams did that, with most of them playing Podunk State. The passing game is back and there’s more to it that Leach and Costello. Watching a second straight 5,000-yard passing season in the SEC should be fascinating.
LSU Offensive Line
The LSU secondary was torched, but save some angst for the OL. Allowing Myles Brennan to get sacked seven times and picking up 80 rushing yards (2.1 yards per carry) against Mississippi State is why LSU didn’t take control of this game on the offensive side of the ball.
Kentucky’s red zone offense
UK outgained Auburn 384-324, but also turned the ball over twice inside the Auburn 15-yard line, including the back-breaking interception from the six-inch line that should have been a pick-six…man, can we even talk about that play without sounding like we’re recounting an episode of Days of Our Lives. Seriously, we’re lucky the targeting wasn’t from Alexa’s twin sister who had fallen in a well after learning that Trevor was going to marry the head lineman’s daughter after the no-call on the goal line…sheesh, I’m done.
Seriously, if you had Arkansas up 7-5 at the half over Georgia, take a bow. D’wan Mathis wasn’t ready, which isn’t shocking. J.T. Daniels might be cleared, someday. Stetson Bennett was a calm hand and eventually awoke the Bulldogs. But man, they’d be well advised not to depend on it too much.
George Pickens and Stetson Bennett looking at the rest of the Georgia offense like pic.twitter.com/6XKb69SRV8
— that guy with the dumptruck (@trevorsamples2) September 26, 2020
The decision to kick a field goal, with his team down by a touchdown with just over three minutes left, felt odd. Then the Gamecocks immediately got the stop they needed and were about to have their shot at a game-winning drive — until UT’s punt struck a Gamecock blocker and fell into Volunteer arms. Even when Will Muschamp does the right thing, and it looks like it’ll work out, the Lucy of the SEC pulls the football away from his Charlie Brown coaching.
Being a South Carolina fan: pic.twitter.com/h5jaqvipvl
— atmchugh (@atmchugh) September 27, 2020
No way around this. This was a dog-meat performance from the Aggies. They outgained Vanderbilt by 121 yards, had a decent passing game and sported the SEC’s only 100 yard rusher…yet A&M barely hung around long enough to eke out a 17-12 win. You can’t lose three fumbles in an SEC game, particularly against Vandy. The West took a big step forward on Saturday — Ole Miss and MSU both looked legitimate. And A&M really didn’t.
Alabama’s point spread
Admit it, when Alabama scored on its first drive of the second half to take a 35-3 lead over Missouri, that 29-point line looked like a moneymaker. Not so fast. Coach Nick Saban didn’t so much go conservative as he milked the game clock to actual death. Two drives netted zero points, but did burn 12 minutes of second-half clock. Meanwhile, Mizzou was quite happy to awaken, even cashing in a last-play touchdown to cement the effect of a competitive game.
SEC rushing games
Yes, the passing thrived on Saturday … in part because the ground attacks were mostly asleep. Nobody rushed for 200 yards in their opener, and only two teams (Florida and Texas A&M) surpassed 4.0 yards per carry. Yes, in an SEC-on-SEC war, defenses play a significant role. But when half of the SEC averaged under 3.0 yards per carry, there’s some missed execution in play as well.