SEC Football: Analyzing Strengths and Weaknesses of the West Division

Barrett SalleeSEC Football Lead WriterSeptember 6, 2012

Alabama LB C.J. Mosley
Alabama LB C.J. MosleyRonald Martinez/Getty Images

Yesterday, we analyzed the strengths and weakness of the SEC East.

Today, we head out West to take a look at the best division in college football.

The West went 5-1 during the first Saturday of the season, with the only loss being Auburn's 26-19 heartbreaker in the Georgia Dome vs. Clemson.

The story in the division was Alabama's dominance in its 41-14 win over Michigan at the Cowboys Classic.

Here are the strengths and weaknesses of the SEC West after one week of play.



Alabama...The Entire Program

I absolutely hate the cliche that teams don't rebuild, they reload—but that's exactly what Alabama does.

Dee Milliner showed no signs of having issues stepping in for departed cornerbacks Dre Kirkpatrick and DeQuan Menzie, C.J. Mosley looked pretty healthy and the quest to replace running back Trent Richardson may have skipped Eddie Lacy, Jalston Fowler and Dee Hard and landed on true freshman T.J. Yeldon.

Nick Saban may not like anyone overlooking this weekend's opponent Western Kentucky, but if Alabama plays every week like it did vs. Michigan, nobody is going to stop the Crimson Tide.


Knile Davis Is Back

Arkansas didn't want to give Knile Davis a ton of work vs. Jacksonville State, and head coach John L. Smith had planned on using the first two games to get Davis re-accustomed to contact. Davis vetoed that, but Saturday's game was Davis' first game in more than a year. 

While he wasn't necessarily the work horse, he did receive the majority of Arkansas' carries, rushing for 70 yards and one touchdown on 18 carries.

It wasn't flashy, but it was a big step toward Arkansas' next big goal—beating Alabama in two weeks in Fayetteville. Davis led all SEC running backs in 2010 with 1,322 rushing yards and will need to come close to replicating that output if Arkansas wants to take home the crystal football.


Ole Miss QB Bo Wallace Was Pretty Darn Good

The SEC world was abuzz Saturday night when Ole Miss went into halftime trailing Central Arkansas by a score of 20-14.

Same old Ole Miss, right?

Well, maybe, but that can't be properly answered until we have a larger body of work.

What we did see was quarterback Bo Wallace have a pretty stellar debut in Ole Miss, and nobody is talking about it.

The junior college transfer completed 20-of-24 passes for 264 yards, two touchdowns and one interception, and added 13 carries for 82 yards and another touchdown.

I don't care if it was against Central Arkansas—that would be an impressive stat line vs. air.

Ole Miss may struggle, but if Wallace plays like he did on Saturday, he gives the Rebels a puncher's chance at springing the upset.



Auburn's Tacklingor Lack Thereof

New year, same story for Auburn's defense. 

Clemson rolled up 528 yards of offense on Brian VanGorder's revamped defense, due in large part to a plethora of missed tackles by Auburn.

That won't cut it.

Auburn can't get away from the scheme, because the scheme worked against Clemson. VanGorder's defense got Clemson in several 3rd-and-medium or 3rd-and-long situations, brought the heat, the heat got there, and the heat got beat by quarterback Tajh Boyd.

VanGorder can't get away from his aggressive mentality, but he has to fix the fundamentals. The fundamentals cost Auburn a win last weekend.


The Unknown

Texas A&M originally had a tough test scheduled in Shreveport vs. Louisiana Tech to open the season, but Hurricane Isaac had other plans and forced the game to be postponed.

That's bad news for the Aggies.

Now, first-year head coach Kevin Sumlin is forced to break in his new offense and new quarterback Johnny Manziel against a Florida defense that finished eighth in the country in total defense a year ago.

It adds an entirely different level of intrigue to this game. The fear of the unknown is dangerous for any coaching staff, but it does add a lot of excitement to A&M's first SEC game—which was already kind of a big deal anyway.