Week 1 in the SEC is in the books. Time to dole out the helmet stickers:
Tennessee coach Derek Dooley: Granted, it wasn’t an SEC opponent, but Dooley’s young Vols gave the Big Orange Nation a reason for hope with a 50-0 rout of Tennessee-Martin. It was the Neyland Stadium debut for Dooley and a long list of first-year players on the Vols’ roster. Tennessee gained 537 yards of total offense, while holding Tennessee-Martin to 142 yards and three first downs. More importantly, this was a program in desperate need of a steady hand to run it, and Dooley has provided that.
Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham: Georgia’s defense needed a dose of energy, confidence, swagger, just about everything. It’s only a first game, but the Bulldogs played with all of the above on defense in trouncing Louisiana-Lafayette 55-7 on Saturday. Switching over to Grantham’s new 3-4 scheme, Georgia collected three sacks, intercepted three passes and held Louisiana-Lafayette to 128 total yards.
Auburn quarterback Cameron Newton: Not a bad debut for the junior quarterback, who showcased his versatility in a big way for the Tigers. He accounted for five touchdowns (three passing and two rushing) in rolling up 357 yards of total offense in Auburn’s 52-26 win over Arkansas State. Newton rushed for 171 yards, a school record for a quarterback, and that included a 71-yard touchdown romp.
LSU cornerback/kick returner Patrick Peterson: Already one of college football’s top cornerbacks, Peterson put on a show in the return game in LSU’s 30-24 win over North Carolina. He flirted with an SEC record and set a school record with 257 combined yards on kickoff and punt returns. Included was an 87-yard punt return for a touchdown in the second quarter. He had 244 return yards by halftime.
Mississippi State quarterback Tyler Russell: The Mississippi State fans had been waiting to see Russell in a Bulldogs’ uniform, and he didn’t disappoint. The redshirt freshman tied a school record with four touchdown passes in a 49-7 pummeling of Memphis. Russell, who didn’t start the game, took over for Chris Relf and completed 13 of 16 passes for 256 yards and was nearly perfect in running the Mississippi State offense, which cranked out 569 yards of total offense.