SEC Report Card, Week 1: Detention is crowded
SEC Week 1 left us wondering if we could send everybody back to fall camp and start over. No? Very well then. There were a few standouts. The good students did what they do — Alabama, LSU, Georgia, A&M, all fine. Florida and Auburn both gave us concern, but pulled through. Mississippi State, Kentucky, and Arkansas didn’t get a ton of style points, but took care of business. But the rest. Oh, the rest. We’ll tell you more about it in SEC Report Card, where we grade every team and single out the good and the bad.
The Tide rolled and Tua looked like, well, Tua. The only (minor) down side is that UA’s run game wasn’t in midseason form. Until Jerome Ford popped a 37-yarder in garbage time, the Tide were averaging about 3 yards per carry and hadn’t had a run of more than 15 yards.
Well, the good news is that Arkansas won on a day when plenty of SEC teams didn’t. The bad news is that the offense, particularly the passing game, never really got going. If they can’t throw better than this, the Razorbacks won’t have many (any?) wins in SEC play .
Had ‘em all the way. Auburn led for nine seconds, but it was the last nine seconds. The ABC television crew was selling the Legend of Bo Nix pretty hard in the fourth quarter, but the true freshman was 13 for 31 for 177 yards and a pair of interceptions. Yes, the upside is obvious, but he and the Tigers need to tighten up.
Sharp work from the Tigers, throwing the ball all over the field. Joe Burrow had more touchdown passes (five) than incompletions (four). Defensively, the work LSU did on Georgia Southern’s run-based scheme was amazing. Sure, this wasn’t Clemson, but holding anybody to 98 yards will do.
That “D” is obviously for defense. Everything we knew about Ole Miss was wrong. That defense held Memphis to 15 points, and generally bent but never broke. The offense… well, it was offensive — 93 yards passing, 80 yards rushing, 10 measly points? Could be a long season in Oxford.
Mississippi State: B-
Tommy Stevens with the deep ball…
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) August 31, 2019
The Tommy Stevens Era began pretty well, at least on the offense. MSU ended up 3 yards shy of 500 total yards and Kylin Hill missed 200 rushing yards by the same amount. That said, Louisiana passed for 267 yards and rushed for a healthy 4.3 yards per carry. State better get defensive.
Texas A&M: A-
Two 100-yard rushers, decent game from Kellen Mond, and the Aggies held Texas State to 8 rushing yards. The Aggies picked off four passes, but Texas State passed for 211 yards, which is the mildest of concerns.
Bye week for the Gators, who had to enjoy watching most of the East stumble.
Georgia won on the road at Vandy by 24, rushed for 323 yards and generally looked like Georgia. They also scored nine points in the game’s final 38 minutes, had 10 penalties for 115 yards and went 1-for-8 on third and fourth downs. This was okay, but UGA is capable of more.
After a fairly dozy first half, Kentucky woke up and took care of business against Toledo. Terry Wilson passed for 246 yards on 26 passes, and if he can play at that level, Kentucky’s season should go pretty well. The Wildcats did get outrushed by Toledo, 181-176, which isn’t the best news.
The Tigers outgained Wyoming by 148 yards, passed the ball at will (423 yards for Kelly Bryant in his Mizzou debut), and lost. Wyoming dropped 297 rushing yards on the Tigers, at a 7.1 yards per carry clip. That, and Mizzou going minus-3 on turnovers, spelled their demise. There were some bright spots, but what a dog of a loss.
South Carolina: F
After North Carolina coach Mack Brown made possibly the most bizarre playcalling decision ever, Jake Bentley ended South Carolina’s loss in true Bad Jake fashion, taking a sack to end the Gamecocks’ final chance. A Tar Heels offense featuring a true freshman QB outgained the Gamecocks 483-270. Worse still, with an 11-point fourth-quarter lead, South Carolina watched UNC go 98 and 95 yards on drives for the game-stealing touchdowns. Inexcusable, and it might have been the worst performance of the day… but…
Outhustled, outplayed, and beaten by Georgia State. If this isn’t rock bottom, wake UT fans up when it’s over.
The loss is understandable. The offense that never really seemed to even take a shot at UGA wasn’t. Riley Neal is doubtlessly a nice young man, but when he doesn’t complete a pass of longer than 12 yards, it’s going to be hard for Vandy to make much noise.
LSU with 350 passing yards? Sign us up. The Tiger offense has rarely been honored, but there they are.
We like balance. MSU had 261 yards on the ground and 236 in the air? That’ll do.
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) August 31, 2019
Tua, it was good to see you back to slinging it all over the field. Bama’s 512 total yards was a solid day’s work.
Yes, they gave up 21 points, but the Tigers shut down Oregon for the final 24 minutes of the comeback win. Everybody is talking about Nix, but the Tiger defense saved the day first.
Vanderbilt was vanilla and unexplosive with six points. UGA had plenty to say about that, holding Vandy to 3 for 14 on third downs.
Hey, the Rebels defenders held the opposing offense to two scores. It’s not their fault that the offense didn’t show up.
Excellent work by the return teams (60 yard KR, 38 yard PR) and two made field goals — the team played poorly but the special teams wasn’t to blame.
Will Rodrigo Blankenship forever go down as the ultimate fan favorite UGA player?
— Katie Moseley (@matiekoseley) September 1, 2019
Rodrigo Blankenship hit a 50-yarder among his three field goals, and the return game showed flashes. Punter Jake Camarda was good too.
Hey, no missed kicks!
Ole Miss had 173 total yards, was 1-for-10 on third downs, ran for 2.4 yards per carry and had less than 100 yards passing? That’s how you end up with 10 points.
Only 270 total yards against a rebuilding UNC defense? Carolina didn’t look sharp in any offensive area, going 3-for-13 on third downs and losing the turnover battle 2-1 as well.
The Hogs struggled, particularly in the passing game (18-for-35, 191 yards, 1 interception) against an FCS defense, only putting up 20 points. They have to do better.
Getting outrushed 213-93 by Georgia State might be the most telling stat of the day. The want-to just wasn’t there for UT.
Similarly, Mizzou was boat-raced 297-114 in rushing yards. How do SEC teams lose rushing battle this bad to teams from the Sun Belt and Mountain West?
Yeah, it was Georgia. But allowing 323 rushing yards … well, it gets you on this list.
Nobody missed any kicks. Auburn did give up a long punt return, but the Tigers were otherwise excellent in the kicking game, so nobody gets detention this week.