The biggest SEC storylines I'm following in Week 2
Week 1 brought wins and losses but no real team surprises outside of LSU’s showing at UCLA. Those we thought would win, did. Those we thought would lose, did.
The intrigue resided strictly with the individuals.
As such, here are the 5 biggest individual storylines I’ll be following today in Week 2.
1. More Anthony Richardson, please
OK, I’m sold. Florida’s mammoth backup QB essentially turned Florida Atlantic into fodder for a high school highlights video. It looked like Derrick Henry running over rural high school kids back in Yulee, Fla.
No, Anthony Richardson’s passing skills were not on display. Fine. Can that be improved? I can’t wait to find out Saturday against USF … and beyond.
Emory Jones might, in fact, be a very, very capable SEC QB. He might, in fact, be a better overall QB than Anthony Richardson. But the sight of Richardson turning the corner, lowering his shoulder and running through a linebacker reminded me of Cam Newton.
I don’t know how Dan Mullen is going to manage this, but I do know this much: You can’t keep Florida’s most unstoppable offensive player off the field.
2. Is Kentucky’s offense for real?
Will Levis and the Wildcats toyed with Louisiana Monroe in the opener. Question the opponent’s talent level all you want, but don’t sleep on how Kentucky dominated.
The obvious question is: Can they do that against an SEC defense?
From the game plan to the execution, everything about Kentucky’s Week 1 performance was the polar opposite of what we’ve seen the previous 5 years.
Will the Wildcats be just as aggressive throwing on first down Saturday? Will they be almost as effective? Will they have a third option, knowing that Mizzou is going to try to blanket Josh Ali and Wan’Dale Robinson?
Or is Robinson so explosive that double-teams just mean one fewer man left to beat after he catches the pass?
We’re going to learn a lot more about Kentucky’s new offense Saturday.
3. Grant Morgan vs. Bijan Robinson
Robinson is an All-SEC caliber running back. And if Texas joins the SEC by next fall, he’ll prove that each week.
Saturday, the Longhorns’ Heisman hopeful takes on an Arkansas defense led by a trio of hard-hitters: Grant Morgan, Bumper Pool and Jalen Catalon.
Each will spend time mirroring Robinson’s every move (though Pool will miss the first half while serving the rest of his targeting suspension). As expected, Robinson ran for 103 yards in Texas’ opening win. More problematic to Arkansas, he also caught 4 passes for 73 yards.
He is a slightly smaller version of Najee Harris — and he’s going to be a problem on Saturday.
4. Can Tennessee’s WRs run far enough, fast enough to catch Joe Milton’s rainbows?
Not to overreact (I do that every Sunday morning), but I can’t remember seeing a QB with a stronger arm than Tennessee’s new starting QB.
Milton threw a couple of 65-yard passes in the opener that looked like he was playing catch in the backyard. Except, of course, nobody caught them.
There is benefit, of course, in merely attempting such throws because it prevents safeties from loading the box against RBs Jabari Small and Tiyon Evans.
Ultimately, Milton will have to connect on a few of those deep shots. He’ll have a chance against Pitt. The Panthers allowed 22 completions of 30+ yards last season — which ranked 12th in the ACC. Only Duke allowed more 50+ yard completions than Pitt.
5. How many SEC QBs will throw for 300 yards?
Last week, 5 SEC QBs reached the magic number and Haynes King came close, finishing with 292 in his first college start.
Assuming health and friendly play-calling, Bryce Young and Matt Corral are locks to make it 2 weeks in a row. Likewise, Max Johnson can pick his number against McNeese State.
Will Rogers will throw it enough to reach 300 against NC State, which has surrendered 300+ yards to a QB 16 times over the past 5+ seasons.
Will Levis, the remaining member of the Week 1 300-yard club, faces the stiffest challenge against Mizzou. I think Levis will fall short, but it’s a much, much better story if he becomes the first Kentucky quarterback since Patrick Towles in 2015 to record back-to-back 300-yard games.
Auburn’s Bo Nix made a run at 300 last week. He finished with 275 on a near-flawless performance. TJ Finley will get some run in an expected blowout Saturday, but not until after Nix records his 4th career 300-yard game. If Nix does that, he’ll join Jarrett Stidham as the only Auburn QBs this century with 4 300-yard games. (Cam Newton finished with 2.)