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Sunday, September 12, 2010
What we learned in the SEC: Week 2

By Chris Low

A look at what we learned in the SEC in Week 2:

1. Alabama still on top: The Crimson Tide made it look easy in their 24-3 win over Penn State and were playing without their best two players -- running back Mark Ingram and defensive end Marcell Dareus. The Tide’s defense is full of first-time starters and first-time contributors, and it's getting a little bit better and a little bit more comfortable every week. That’s bad news for the rest of the league. Alabama’s hardly unbeatable. But come November, we may think differently. After all, this is a defense that’s given up just two field goals in two games.

Murray
Aaron Murray completed 66.7 percent of his passes Saturday against South Carolina.
2. Turning Murray loose: A lot of Georgia fans aren’t real happy with the defense the day after and rightfully so. The Bulldogs’ tackling stunk in the 17-6 loss to South Carolina. But there is a bright side. Freshman quarterback Aaron Murray is going to be a good player, and he’s going to be a good player this season. The Bulldogs just have to turn him loose. They were way too conservative with him against the Gamecocks, and it cost them. Let him throw the ball down the field. Let him get out of the pocket and make some plays. Let him do what he does best. The Bulldogs did a good job of protecting him until the end when they had to throw, and they have a veteran offensive line. If they’re going to get back into the East race, they better take the training wheels off Murray.

3. LSU quarterback concerns: The bottom line for LSU is that the Tigers are 2-0 and play their next three games at home before going to Florida. They’re a talented bunch that hasn’t come close to playing its best football. But for this team to make a legitimate run in the Western Division race, junior quarterback Jordan Jefferson can’t continue to take one step forward and another step backward. He still has time to get it going. But to this point, there simply hasn’t been enough consistency on offense with Jefferson under center, and LSU coach Les Miles sounds like he’s growing antsy. Following the 27-3 win over Vanderbilt, Miles said, “We’re going to continue to evaluate our quarterback situation, and frankly, we’re going to expect more out of the position -- period.” In other words, don’t be surprised if you see Jarrett Lee get a shot in these next few games.

4. Hold that line: From the time Steve Spurrier arrived at South Carolina in 2005, he just hasn’t been able to get it right in the offensive line. The Gamecocks have missed on some guys in recruiting and never been able to sustain any continuity with offensive line coaches. Shawn Elliott is South Carolina’s third different offensive line coach in as many years, and he deserves a tremendous amount of credit for what the Gamecocks have accomplished up front the first two weeks. They’re playing together, playing with confidence and playing with a purpose. It hasn’t been perfect. But for the first time in a while, this looks like an honest-to-goodness SEC-caliber offensive line that can push some people off the line and dictate the flow of games.

5. Long season on Rocky Top: The Vols played inspired football for the first half Saturday and really played above their heads. But as Tennessee coach Derek Dooley said himself, their 48-13 beatdown at the hands of No. 7 Oregon shows them exactly where they are, which is squarely in the bottom half of the SEC. The Ducks left the Vols in their tracks en route to scoring 45 unanswered points and handing Tennessee its most lopsided loss ever in Neyland Stadium. There’s no shame in losing to the Ducks. They’re a terrific football team with speed everywhere you turn. But as soon as the tide turned in Saturday’s game with Oregon taking an interception back for a touchdown, the Vols wilted. If that pattern continues (and they don’t show a little more resiliency), it could really get ugly this season on Rocky Top.