SEC report cards, Week 1: Top grades for Auburn, Alabama, Georgia
Sure, the semester is just beginning, but school is in session, and that means it’s time for SEC weekly report cards. As is our tradition, we grade each team and pick out a few particularly high achievers or detention-bound lunkheads. Here’s how it all breaks down.
This was the toughest Saturday matchup for an SEC team, and Auburn did exactly what they needed to do. Sure, their offensive line can open the running game a bit better — 3.3 yards per carry leaves room for improvement. But Jarrett Stidham did enough to get them a lead, and the defense did its part (five sacks, nine tackles for loss and a crucial interception) to take this one home.
They’re still really, really good. Tua Tagovailoa almost makes Alabama unfair. They have some minor penalty issues to clear up, and the QB rotation thing seems more likely to hurt than help, but there’s no reason to pick against them.
Mississippi State: A-
Terrible competition, but the offense shredded Stephen F. Austin in the air and on the ground. Meanwhile, the defense was solid, holding Stone Cold to less than 2 yards per carry. Solid debut for Joe Moorhead.
Texas A&M: B+
The only things we can hold against the Aggies are the poor level of competition (Northwestern State) and the fact that the secondary gave up 230 passing yards in this one. This was a good week of work and makes us expect even more from A&M.
Ole Miss: B
This one had all the makings of a dangerous game for the Rebels, and they took care of business, led mostly by a dynamic offense. That said, they gave up 486 yards on defense, and they can’t expect to win shootouts in the SEC. So on the one hand, they won. On the other, the way they won is unlikely to hold up long-term.
They won by 35, and they passed for 353 yards. That’s the good news. The bad news was that they couldn’t crack a run longer than 10 yards against an FCS opponent, and their defense was pretty mediocre. There’s reason for happiness, but also cause for concern.
Grade cards came out before their tough Week 1 battle with the Hurricanes.
South Carolina: A-
Not only did the Gamecocks run and pass at will, but defensively they did a good job controlling the run and the pass. Admittedly, Coastal Carolina wasn’t much of a matchup, but the things the Gamecocks did will sustain them well in the East.
It would be an A except that it was awful competition, and we don’t know a ton about this team. We saw some Jake Fromm, we saw some Justin Fields, but their punter could have won this game at QB. On the ground, the Bulldogs averaged more than 9 yards per carry, but nobody had more than eight carries. This was impressive, but given the talent disparity, that doesn’t mean much.
The Tigers are explosive, and they showed it in rolling over FCS foe UT-Martin. They passed for 394 yards without allowing a sack. The ground game was spotty, but Mizzou has several talented backs. The Tigers defense wasn’t exactly dominant, but it was good enough, which is probably a reasonable goal with this team.
Offense would get an A, because they managed to rush for 200 yards and still make Feleipe Franks look like an actual productive quarterback. Defense would get about a C+, because they allowed 222 rushing and 5.2 yards per carry to a one-dimensional FCS team. There’s more good than bad, but still plenty of things to clean up for next week.
A 35-7 win in an in-state rivalry sounds good. There’s a little fool’s gold here, as Vandy outgained MTSU just 346-294. The offense was fine, but it’s not entirely clear how this Vandy team will gut out the tough yards needed to compete in the SEC.
All UK did was turn the ball over four times in the first half and struggle to beat a lower-tier MAC team. Starting QB Terry Wilson was a near disaster, and while backup Gunnar Hoak looked better, he couldn’t have not looked better. The ground game was good, the run defense was competent, but if this passing game doesn’t improve, well, it won’t be pretty.
Sure, West Virginia is good. But Tennessee played a relatively clean game — no turnovers, 172 yards passing, 129 yards rushing — and got absolutely demolished. The Vols had no answer for Will Grier, and in an SEC where most teams have talented QBs, that doesn’t bode well.
More than 700 yards, with more than 500 on the ground? It doesn’t matter if they played a high school team, that’s a promising first sign for their season.
This is less about numbers and more about a 180 degree change in attitude. After watching Florida play offense not to lose under Jim McElwain, it was interesting to see what a difference Dan Mullen made from Day 1.
They gave up plenty of yards, but they put enough heat on Jake Browning to beat a top 10 opponent, even when the offense put up just 21 points.
The Commodores won a game they had to win, in large part because their defense scored as many points as it allowed.
Superb returns for the Tide overcome some woefully bad placekicking. Can we put them on the honor roll and in detention?
A perfect placekicking day plus a 94-yard kick return for a touchdown — that’s honor roll work.
Painful passing game contributed little except turnovers in a ground-heavy win over a mediocre MAC team.
14 points wasn’t going to get it done against West Virginia. The lack of an offensive identity is jarring.
They got outrushed and gave up 20 points to an FCS team. In a week of good SEC defense, that stands out in a negative way.
Their defense was good enough in Week 1. But giving up almost 500 yards isn’t the best sign for this team.
Yes, because they missed an extra point and a short field goal, resulting in a Saban tirade.
Anders Carlson missed two field goals, which should never happen — particularly in a close game.