Week 1 has arrived. Here are 6 things I can't wait to watch unfold today in the SEC
We made it to the starting line. That’s definitely worth celebrating.
There’s so much unknown about the 2020 SEC season, I have more questions than answers.
Here are the 6 biggest storylines I can’t wait to watch unfold today in Week 1.
1. What does Lane Kiffin do with John Rhys Plumlee?
Plumlee might be the biggest wildcard in the SEC. He’s an absolute threat from anywhere on the field — and maybe that’s exactly what Kiffin intends to prove today and beyond.
I keep going back to Jalen Hurts. He arrived at Alabama ready to run. Kiffin worked with that and worked with Hurts to develop the passing.
Matt Corral has a bigger arm. He’s more accurate. He’s the starter. But Plumlee is more exciting. Maybe Ole Miss’ wideouts are farther along than I think, far enough along that deep shots again will become an offensive staple. Ole Miss only had 5 pass plays cover 40+ yards last season. In 2017 and 2018, they finished 2nd in the SEC with 19 and 20 such plays, respectively.
Last season, they finished 2nd in the SEC with 34 long rushing plays (20+ yards). Eleven of those went for 40+ yards. Plumlee had 6 of those runs.
Go figure. The baseball player is a home-run threat on the football field, too.
Kiffin will figure it out. I know this much: If I’m Florida, the less of I see of Plumlee today, the better I feel about slowing down the Rebels’ offense.
2. Can Mac Jones throw for 300 yards and 4 TDs?
Nick Saban doesn’t like drama, not nearly as much as we do.
What annoys him entertains us.
The easiest way to end the made-for-Twitter QB drama is to have Jones come out throwing today against Missouri. If Jones hands off 35 times and Alabama rolls behind Najee Harris, the Jones vs. Bryce Young narrative isn’t dissipating.
If Jones throws 15 times in the first quarter at his usual pace, Alabama could be up 28-0.
Point being: I believe in Mac Jones.
3. Who throws it more today: LSU or Mississippi State?
It’s an interesting question. We know Mike Leach is going to dial up 50+ pass plays.
What better way for Ed Orgeron to show his faith in Myles Brennan and LSU’s new-look passing attack than to say, we’ll see that and raise you by 5.
We know LSU could run for 150+ yards against Mississippi State if it wanted to. I hope Orgeron decides he doesn’t want to.
There’s no need to ease into the post-Joes chapter of LSU football. People already are questioning the Tigers.
I expect Orgeron to send a very loud message, via Brennan’s right arm, that this offense isn’t backing down. LSU won’t throw it more than MSU today, but Brennan has to throw it more than 30 times.
4. Can Chad Morris work his magic with Bo Nix?
Morris has detractors. That’s fine.
I’m old enough to remember what Morris did at Clemson with Tajh Boyd and what that offense looked like before Morris. He remade Clemson’s offense, obliterating the program record book in the process. He recruited Deshaun Watson and the group he built took it to the next level after he left. Without question, they would have done the same had Morris stayed.
Bo Nix is a playmaker with a scattershot arm. I’m a huge believer that scheme can enhance accuracy simply because QBs are throwing to open receivers. Auburn has weapons on the outside. It has deep threats. It can make you defend every inch of a 53- x 100-yard field.
At Clemson, Morris didn’t ask his QBs to take repeated shots down the field. They typically led the ACC in completions covering 10 and 20 yards. Easy, open, intermediate, move-the-chains type stuff. That’s by design.
Auburn was 8th in the SEC in 10+ yard pass plays last season. I’ll be shocked if the Tigers don’t jump into the top 5 in 2020.
5. Hey, Tennesse, whose offense is it?
Are the Vols going to roll with Jarrett Guarantano, continue to divide and conquer in the backfield or turn it over to Eric Gray?
I’m hoping it’s the latter. Tennessee can’t pass its way past the SEC East’s contenders, but it might be able to bully its way into contention.
Lean on that line. I want to see 6 Cole Cubelic tweets featuring Trey Smith laying waste to South Carolina’s precocious defensive line.
If Gray ends up leading the SEC in rushing, the Vols will be in good shape.
6. Kentucky, are you for real?
I think so. As soon as the schedule was released, I put Auburn on upset alert in Week 1.
I’m looking forward to watching Terry Wilson’s return. I’m looking forward to Kentucky’s trio of running backs. I like the fact that Cubelic likes Kentucky’s offensive line. We know the defense plays.
Everything sounds good in the preseason. Optimism is undefeated in August.
It’s now gameday. At Jordan-Hare. Auburn has heard all the noise, too, the constant chatter from Kentucky that the Cats are criminally, perennially underrated, and that an upset is looming.
We’ll find out just how real Kentucky is today.