Week 1 SEC Report Card
For 13/14ths of the SEC, it’s report card time. And most folks aren’t real happy. A few exceptions aside, the SEC laid a big week 1 egg. We’ll give each team a grade and then pick a couple of teams for hall passes (good work) or detention (bad work) on offense, defense, special teams, and coaching. Buckle up.
The Tide deserve a game ball for living up to expectations in a 52-6 thumping of Southern California. It’s pretty empty at the head of the class, but Alabama earned its spot in week one.
Texas A&M: B+
The Aggies struggled, needing overtime to pull the win over UCLA out of the fire. But while Trevor Knight struggled at times, the defense made some big plays against UCLA’s tough offense, and a balanced attack put up enough offense to win the game.
In a week of some lucky barely-wins and a couple of crushing defeats, Auburn lost, but didn’t really look bad doing it. Their defense was good enough to humble the mighty Clemson offense, and that has to give Tiger fans a lot of hope going forward, particularly in a punchless-looking SEC.
Arkansas did not mess up its entire season, which sadly places them in the middle of the West, after a 21-20 win over Louisiana Tech.
It is a difficult thing to have the best player in football but lose to a thoroughly mediocre Wisconsin team, 16-14, to open the season.
Mississippi State: D-
It’s hard to imagine a Bulldog path to six wins coming off this loss, where a 17-0 halftime advantage became a 21-20 stunner.
Ole Miss: Incomplete
The Rebels don’t play until Monday night, but have to be pretty near elated to see the division look wide open, with the exception of Bama on top.
It wasn’t always pretty, but the Bulldogs rode 222 rushing yards from Nick Chubb and a very solid effort of the bench from true freshman QB Jacob Eason to a 33-24 win over North Carolina.
South Carolina: B
For a Gamecocks team that was projected by many to start the year 0-6, this 13-10 win, ugly as it was, constituted a gigantic first step for Will Muschamp’s team.
Florida has a recent history of putting up some opening week dozers, and the struggling 24-7 victory over a pitiful UMass team fits the profile.
The good news for the Tigers was that the revamped offense put up 462 yards. The bad news is that they were held out of the end zone until a garbage time TD in the last two minutes.
Tennessee did win in Week 1. That’s about it for the good news. A 20-13 overtime squeaker over Appalachian State is not the stuff that will keep the Vols in the Top 10, or Top 25 for long.
Speaking of long seasons. Taking a 10-0 halftime lead — actually less than a minute into the second quarter lead — and then watching the offense flail around impotently and the game turn into a 13-10 loss to offensively-challenged South Carolina is indicative of a team that was overrated.
Who takes a 35-10 lead in the final minute of the first half only to lose 44-35? That’s right, Kentucky. Hard to find a way to cobble together six wins this season, or for Mark Stoops to keep control of the program.
Georgia: 474 total yards and a huge day for Chubb. UGA got the ball to their main man when it mattered, and looked good doing it.
Alabama: 52 points, with big plays from ArDarius Stewart in the passing game, and stud sophomore Damien Harris on the ground? Just Bama being Bama. (They did it with just two catches for 9 yards from Calvin Ridley.)
Vanderbilt: 73 passing yards in a 13-10 loss says that stud RB Ralph Webb is going to have a long season.
LSU: Lots of candidates, but for the Tigers passing game to have just 131 yards with some crushing interceptions in light of the athletes on the field at receiver and the best running back in the country is unacceptable.
Alabama: Holding USC under 200 yards for the game is indicative of another stout Tide defense. And the Tide scored again. They’re good at non-offensive touchdowns. Big surprise.
Florida: Admittedly weak competition, but a sub 200-yard week is good work, whoever it’s against.
Kentucky: Southern Miss ran through the Wildcats front like a knife through butter in turning a 35-10 deficit into a win.
Mississippi State: The lion’s share of the blame has to go to the offense, but the offense can be only partially responsible for blowing a 17-point halftime lead.
Florida: Kicker Eddy Piniero was as advertised, and the Gators looked like special teams will turn from a huge question mark to an exclamation mark.
South Carolina: There were some glitches, but Elliot Fry’s game winning 55-yard field goal along gets Muschamp’s team a hall pass.
Mississippi State: Not all of it was bad, but you can’t miss a 29-yard game-winning field goal.
Vanderbilt: A missed potentially game-winning field goal highlighted mediocrity across several areas for a Vandy team that was supposedly emphasizing special teams.
Alabama: Nick Saban had his team ready to play. Any questions?
Texas A&M: On a weekend when a couple of hot-seat coaches felt a tropical increase, Kevin Sumlin kept his head, and looks good to keep his job.
Vanderbilt: Hard to see Vandy cobbling together a winning season, and some puzzling in-game decisions are hard to defense, like switching QBs up 10-0, and never scoring again.
Kentucky: UK looked like any halftime adjustments that they made were chiropractic rather than offensive or defensive.