Throughout the season, SEC Country will list the interceptions thrown from the weekend, as well as rank them from most to least by passer and in terms of most costly, ugly, unlucky and forgivable. Let’s take a look at the grades for Week 1:
Costliest INT of the Week
Quarterback Brandon Harris tossed 2 interceptions for just the second time in his career in LSU’s 16-14 defeat to Wisconsin at Lambeau Field, the second of which cost the Tigers big.
Down by two points and on the Badgers’ 35-yard line with 0:57 remaining to play, Harris, on first-and-15, dodged a blitzing T.J. Watt and rolled out to his weak side, only to throw an errant 10-yard attempt straight into the hands of Wisconsin safety D’Cota Dixon. To rub salt in the wound, offensive lineman Josh Boutte drew a personal foul and ejection for a late hit on Dixon after the play. Three points are all the Tigers needed to win the game, and they were just a few feet from being within field-goal range with a whole set of downs.
Ugliest INT of the Week
Joshua Dobbs didn’t play like a second-team preseason All-SEC quarterback against Appalachian State, as the then ninth-ranked Tennessee Volunteers narrowly escaped a colossal upset, winning 20-13 in overtime at Neyland Stadium. The dual-threat senior rarely threw downfield, tossing for 192 yards, a touchdown and an interception on 16 of 29 passes, and may look back thinking he could have performed a little better.
Dobbs’ lone pick was an ugly one, too. Trailing by 10 points with 1:32 to go in the first half, and in Mountaineers territory, he rolled out to his right with two defenders in pursuit and floated a 20-yard balloon ball off his back foot. The result was not pretty. The pass came up way short and fell straight into the hands of App. State senior safety Mondo Williams. The aerospace engineering major may have impressed some of his professors with the interception’s hang time, but certainly not head coach Butch Jones.
Forgivable INT of the Week
LSU’s Harris gets the rare honor of throwing not only the most costly interception of the weekend, but the most forgiving one as well. The junior’s first pick was a pardonable, desperation deep ball to WR Malachi Dupre on the final play before half time. No harm, no foul.
Unluckiest INT of the Week
Almost every weekend, one SEC quarterback will fall victim to an interception caused by a mismanaged catch, poor route, tipped ball, ill-timed slip, or bad bounce. There is no clear-cut contender from Week 1, but Alabama’s Jalen Hurts first career turnover in the Tide’s 52-6 rout over No. 20 USC was maybe the most unfortunate.
Let’s preface the pick by pointing out the true freshman made a rookie mistake and should have never attempted the pass. Sporting a 31-3 lead in the third quarter, Hurts appeared predisposed to finding WR ArDarius Stewart down the sidelines on a third-and-10 from the Tide 38-yard line. He telegraphed the attempt badly, but put the ball in a decent spot, forcing USC’s Iman Marshall to make a very athletic play for the takeaway.
Hurts played outstanding in split duties with QB Blake Barnett, throwing for 118 yards, 2 touchdowns and an interception on 6 of 11 passes. The true freshman also rushed for two scores.
Most INTs of the Week
Ole Miss QB Chad Kelly put in a Jekyll and Hyde performance in the Rebels’ 45-34 opening defeat to No. 4 Florida State in Orlando, Fl. Overall, Kelly accounted for four turnovers, three coming through the air which topped all SEC signal-callers for the weekend. Still, his 139.7 passer efficiency rating ranked second behind Kentucky’s Drew Barker for the week, going 21-for-39 with 313 passing yards and 4 touchdowns. The Seminoles scored 13 points off Ole Miss turnovers.
Pickless for the Week
Let’s single out the passers who posted a clean sheet through the air:
Although there were three fumbles in the South Carolina-Vanderbilt clash, QBs Perry Orth and Brandon McIlwain for the Gamecocks, and Kyle Shurmer and Wade Freebeck for the Commodores, combined to go mistake-free in the interception department on 53 total pass attempts in the game.
New head coach Kirby Smart did not go to the air often in Georgia’s 33-24 victory over No. 22 North Carolina, funneling the ball instead to dynamic RB Nick Chubb early and often (222 yards on 32 carries). True freshman Jacob Eason and senior Greyson Lambert combined to go 13 for 20 for 185 yards, a touchdown and zero picks in split duties under center.
Sophomore QB Luke Del Rio put up so-so numbers in his debut for Florida, tossing for 256 yards, 2 touchdowns and no interceptions on 29 of 44 passes. Like last year, the offense looked out of sync for long stretches, as the Gators owned just a 10-7 lead early in the fourth quarter against UMass. Still, it’s a positive to see a first-time starter putting in a mistake-free effort.
If there is a bright spot to Mississippi State losing to South Alabama 21-20 in the opener, it’s that of QB Damian Williams. The junior went 20-for-28 through the air with 1 touchdown and no interceptions after replacing sophomore Nick Fitzgerald following the game’s first three series. Williams also rushed for 93 yards.
Mizzou’s Drew Lock passed for a career-high 280 yards on 23 of 51 passes in the team’s 26-11 defeat to West Virginia. The sophomore quarterback went turnover-free and found WR Chris Black on an 8-yard strike for the Tigers’ only touchdown on the day.
Below is a list of all the interceptions thrown by SEC quarterbacks this weekend:
Chad Kelly, Ole Miss, 3
Austin Allen, Arkansas, 2
Brandon Harris, LSU, 2
Joshua Dobbs, Tennessee, 1
Jalen Hurts, Alabama, 1
Jeremy Johnson, Auburn, 1
Sean White, Auburn, 1
Drew Barker, Kentucky, 1
Trevor Knight, Texas A&M, 1