For the first time since 1992, seven SEC schools lost their season opener. Week 2 is fast approaching, bringing with it a chance for teams to redeem themselves.
Until then, let’s hand out some blame for each SEC team’s loss in Week 1:
- Coaching (70 percent) — Any time a defense holds an opponent below 20 points and the offense can’t find a way to win the game, questions must be asked. From his bizarre quarterback rotation to some curious red-zone decisions, Gus Malzahn must shoulder most of the blame.
- Offensive line play (20 percent) — Against a rebuilt defensive line, Auburn had to like its chances to run the football. Instead, the Clemson defensive line had 14 tackles for loss and held Auburn to 87 yards on the ground. The quarterback and running back can’t do anything if opposing defenders are in the backfield with them.
- Bad luck (10 percent) — On the game’s opening drive, Auburn stopped Clemson on downs. But the result could have been better if Rudy Ford had hauled in an errant Deshaun Watson pass. If Ford catches it cleanly, he probably scores:
Auburn ended up getting the TO on downs on Clemson's first drive, but Rudy Ford had a possible pick-6. Wasn't ready. pic.twitter.com/RbM5GXi8C3
— Justin Ferguson (@JFergusonAU) September 4, 2016
- Defense (80 percent) — Handed a 35-10 lead with about a minute left in the second quarter, the Wildcats surrendered a 71-yard touchdown pass. After the break, Southern Miss scored 27 more unanswered points to pull away. In total, Southern Miss piled up 554 yards, including almost 300 on the ground. It’s hard to win that way.
- Turnovers (10 percent) — Three turnovers in 5 second-half possessions did little to stop the bleeding for Kentucky.
- Coaching (10 percent) — Southern Miss coach Jay Hopson’s halftime talk was made easier by the long touchdown late in the second quarter. His team clearly made better adjustments before the second half.
- Coaching (60 percent) — It took exactly 60 minutes for Les Miles’ seat to heat up again in the 2016 season. His poor clock management led to a pair of early timeouts in the second half. Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron turned up with an unimaginative and vanilla game plan.
- Offense (40 percent) — The offense was dismal, but it’s not all coaching. At some point, quarterback Brandon Harris needs to play better. He was 12 of 21 for 131 yards with 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions. With teams loading the box to stop Leonard Fournette, there’s no excuse for this level of inefficiency.
- Defense (50 percent) — The defense played well in the first two quarters as Mississippi State built a 17-0 lead. It wilted after halftime. South Alabama quarterback Dallas Davis tossed 2 second-half touchdowns and accounted for 285 passing yards. Missed tackles were also an issue.
- Complacency (25 percent) — No one will admit it, but as 20-point favorites, the Bulldogs might have been looking ahead. Now there’s some urgency to avoid an 0-2 start when South Carolina visits on Saturday night.
- Westin Graves (25 percent) — Missed kicks happen, but if Graves makes a 28-yard field goal from the left hash, we’re not having this conversation. He also missed a 46-yard try earlier.
- Rush defense (50 percent) — The Mountaineers rushed for 241 yards on 48 carries, a 5-yard average. That led to a 9-minute edge in time of possession and plenty of scoring chances. If West Virginia were more effective in the red zone, the final margin would have been bigger.
- Third-down conversions (40 percent) — Last season, Missouri’s offense was one of the nation’s worst. On Saturday, the Tigers moved the ball well. But, when it mattered most, coordinator Josh Heupel’s offense fell short. On 24 third downs, the Tigers converted 10.
- Location/opponent (10 percent) — The Tigers were 10-point underdogs on the road against a solid West Virginia squad. That is tough to overcome.
- Defense (40 percent) — Turnovers, injuries and fatigue (Florida State had more than a 2-to-1 edge in time of possession) were all factors, but the raw numbers were ugly for the Landsharks. The Seminoles rang up 32 first downs, 582 yards and 45 points with a redshirt-freshman quarterback at the controls.
- Turnovers (30 percent) — Four turnovers (3 picks and a fumble by Chad Kelly) helped the Seminoles erase a 28-6 deficit. Those miscues sparked the “neutral” crowd in Orlando, Fla., and things started rolling downhill quickly for Ole Miss.
- Offensive line (30 percent) — An inability to establish the run (67 yards on 23 carries) or protect Kelly (5 sacks) was a factor in the offense’s struggles.
- Coaching (60 percent) — With an offseason to prepare, it’s hard to imagine having a worse game plan than the Commodores did in their loss to South Carolina. Untimely quarterback changes and conservative play-calling led to (deserved) criticism of Derek Mason after the game.
- Passing game (40 percent) — Perhaps a look at Kyle Shurmur’s numbers made Mason want to take a look at Wade Freebeck. Vanderbilt quarterbacks combined to complete 8 of 23 passes for 73 yards against a team with significant depth issues in its secondary.