Sunday, September 9, 2012
What we learned in the SEC: Week 2
By Edward Aschoff
Week 2 is over with and we feel we know teams a little better now.
Here's what we've learned so far in the SEC:
1. Arkansas' defense isn't ready for prime time: The Razorbacks' defense entered the season surrounded by criticism and uncertainty. In Saturday's stunning 34-31 overtime loss to Louisiana-Monroe, the defense didn't do anything to lessen the criticism and worry. Arkansas' defense surrendered 550 total yards, including 412 passing yards by quarterback Kolton Browning. Browning also threw three touchdown passes and ran for 69 yards, including the 16-yard game-winning touchdown. The Warhawks also converted 6 of 7 fourth downs, including Browning's last scamper. This Arkansas defense was pushed around by Alabama and LSU last year, and was pushed around Saturday by a program that has never beaten a ranked team.
QB Aaron Murray (242 yards, 3 TDs) and Georgia ended their victory over Missouri on a 24-0 run.
2. Georgia has true resiliency: The Bulldogs walked into a hostile environment at Missouri and left with a big SEC victory. The Tigers threw everything at Georgia's depleted defense, and the Bulldogs responded with a strong fourth quarter, when the defense totally shut down the Tigers. Georgia outscored Missouri 17-0 in the fourth and finished the game on a 24-0 run after being down 20-17 late in the third quarter. Georgia outscored Mizzou 32-10 in the second half. Mizzou might not have been ranked, but this was a signature win for the Bulldogs. Georgia has struggled recently away from home, but the Bulldogs kept pounding away when their backs were against the wall. We saw the type of fight out of a team with the talent to make an SEC title run.
3. This Auburn team lacks true physicality: Gene Chizik talked so much about how physical Auburn's game with Mississippi State would be Saturday. His players obviously didn't get the message. Like Week 1, the Tigers struggled mightily on defense, as they missed a handful of tackles yet again. Mississippi State running back LaDarius Perkins carried the ball only 14 times, but he did a great job of softening up Auburn's defensive line. That gave quarterback Tyler Russell even more time to pass and shred the Tigers' struggling secondary. Offensively, the Tigers just couldn't get anything going. There were too many east-to-west runs that went for nothing, and the offensive line got absolutely no push up front. Quarterback Kiehl Frazier has a long way to go in the confidence department on the field. This team has to toughen up or it'll be a very long season on the Plains.
4. Florida is tougher than it was last year: The Gators' 20-17 win over Texas A&M wasn't exactly pretty, but last year's team wouldn't have won that game. You saw real resolve from this team after being down at halftime. With the way the Aggies' played in the first half, it looked like they might run away with it. But Florida came out looking like a different team and outscored Texas A&M 10-0 in the second half. The defense, which looked lost in the first half, allowed 65 yards and forced four three-and-outs. Quarterback Jeff Driskel stood taller in the pocket, delivered some clutch throws and made some big plays with his legs. The coaches also adjusted on both sides of the ball to wear down the Aggies. This team isn't ready for LSU or Alabama, but it showed that it is turning into more of that blue-collar team that coach Will Muschamp wants in Gainesville.
5. The gap is there at the top: After another weekend of very impressive football from Alabama and LSU, it's obvious that for the second consecutive season, these are the top dogs ... and then there's everyone else. It's still very early, but these two teams have shown little weakness so far. Alabama routed then-No. 8 Michigan last week and turned around to shut out Western Kentucky 35-0 in a game that could have been a lot worse if Nick Saban hadn't taken his foot off the gas. LSU cleaned up against North Texas last week, then walloped Washington 41-3 and looked much better all around this weekend. Arkansas' loss puts the Hogs further behind, while it still appears that the top East teams just aren't on the same level as these two. The race in the East might be a little more exciting this season, but it looks like the showdown between these two teams in early November will determine the SEC's champ.