College football’s opening weekend revealed things about every SEC program. Some good and some bad. Where does your team fall? (Teams are listed by ranking, then alphabetically.)
No. 1 Alabama
Jalen Hurts is the man for the Crimson Tide. The freshman QB stepped into the fire against a ranked team and accounted for four touchdowns in a 52-6 thrashing of No. 20 Southern California. Hurts wasn’t expected to be the man in Week 1, or really at all this season, but after this performance it will be hard for Nick Saban to justify not playing the kid.
No. 5 LSU
Brandon Harris still isn’t the answer at quarterback for Les Miles. Harris was 12 of 21 for 131 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in a 16-14 loss to Wisconsin. Leonard Fournette will do his part every week, but if Harris can’t find a way to contribute efficiently, it’s going to be hard for LSU to make a move in the SEC West.
No. 9 Tennessee
The Volunteers bought into the hype. Butch Jones, Josh Dobbs and Co. needed overtime to beat an Appalachian State team Thursday that entered the night as a 20-point underdog. Maybe this serves as a wake-up call for Jones and his talented roster.
No. 18 Georgia
Jacob Eason is the guy at quarterback moving forward for Georgia after the freshman led the Bulldogs to a 33-24 win against No. 22 North Carolina. An 8 of 12 passing day for 131 yards and a touchdown cemented what every Georgia fan, and first-year head coach Kirby Smart, expected from the top recruit. It also helps when he can turn around and put the ball in Nick Chubb’s hands 32 times.
No. 25 Florida
Luke Del Rio may be the real deal for the Gators at quarterback. On a day when multiple SEC programs debuted new signal callers, Del Rio may have had the best day with 256 yards and two scores on 29 of 44 passing. The transfer completed passes to eight different receivers in a 24-7 win against UMass.
Quarterback Austin Allen is ready. After sitting behind his brother, Brandon, the last two seasons, Austin rallied the Razorbacks for a 21-20 win over Louisiana Tech. He finished 20 of 29 for 191 yards, two touchdowns and a pair of interceptions. Austin Allen faces an even tougher test next week against No. 13 TCU, and he must find ways to keep up with the Horned Frogs offense.
The quarterback situation is equally muddy for the Tigers after a 19-13 loss to No. 2 Clemson. Sean White got the bulk of the action but had a forgettable 10 of 21 passing performance. Jeremy Johnson was 4 of 6 with an interception and transfer John Franklin III completed his only pass attempt for minus-3 yards. Expect this competition to continue next week against Arkansas State.
The Wildcats are not interested in playing defense. In its 44-35 win, Southern Mississippi posted 520 total yards (262 passing, 258 rushing) on Kentucky. The Wildcats had 409 yards of total offense behind the arm of Drew Baker and legs of Stanley Boom Williams (awesome name), but none of that mattered Saturday, nor will it the rest of the season if Kentucky can’t slow opposing offenses.
Simply, the defense needs some work. Quarterback Damien Williams did his best Dak Prescott impersonation with 143 passing yards and 93 more on the ground, but the Bulldogs couldn’t contain South Alabama’s attack. The Jaguars tallied 379 total yards in a 21-20 win. If a Sun Belt team can do that to you, what can you expect when you run into the SEC’s best?
For better or worse, Missouri believes in quarterback Drew Lock, who aired it out 51 times and completed 23 for 280 yards and a late touchdown in a 26-11 loss to West Virginia. The yardage number looks nice, but Lock wasn’t effective. Missouri coach Barry Odom said Lock will “continue to get better,” and he better hope so if he wants to win games.
Will Muschamp didn’t inherit a desirable quarterback situation in Columbia, but boy did he get a solid kicker. Elliott Fry nailed a 55-yard field goal in the final minute of a 13-10 win over Vanderbilt that started the Muschamp era on a high note.
Unlike the situation with LSU, Texas A&M has its man under center in Trevor Knight, who looked like the playmaker we all remember from his Oklahoma days. Knight completed 22 passes for 239 yards and a touchdown, while adding two rushing scores in a 31-24 overtime upset of No. 16 UCLA. The Aggies will continue to surprise people if Knight gets more comfortable in this new system.
The running game won’t be enough to win games for the Commodores. Starting quarterback Kyle Shurmur completed just 8 of 22 pass attempts for 73 yards against South Carolina. Vanderbilt had every reason to win this game at home and maybe a few more completions would have been the difference.
On to Week 2.
*No. 11 Ole Miss plays No. 4 Florida State at 8 p.m. ET on Monday, Sept. 5.