SEC Football: Biggest Problem Facing Each Team in Week 2
This week the SEC set a record by having 10 schools ranked in the AP Top 25 poll, including the entire SEC West. One week into college football season, and outside of Ohio State, it looks as though the SEC will produce the nation’s best shot at a national title.
But not everything is made of gold in the Southeast. Our goal in this article is to outline each team’s biggest issue heading into Week 2.
Some of these issues may be nitpicking, while others might be significant concerns. Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comment section.
The Crimson Tide rolled over Wisconsin 35-17 in the season opener and by all accounts looked pretty solid everywhere. There aren’t many concerns for ‘Bama, but if there’s one, it’s probably at quarterback.
Jake Coker made the start and finished 15-of-21 for 213 yards and a touchdown, but he got off to a slow start as the Tide led at the half by just seven. This quote from head coach Nick Saban explains why there could be at least a slight concern.
“Offensively, we started a little bit slow, that was kind of the plan, not put too much on the quarterback," Saban said, per ESPN.com.
Not putting too much on the quarterback's plate right now is probably fine, but when the Tide face SEC defenses, they’re going to be asking a lot more of Coker.
Arkansas beat up UTEP 48-13 in its opener, as quarterback Brandon Allen threw for a career-best 308 yards and tossed four touchdowns.
The Razorbacks looked impressive across the board and should continue that against Toledo. The only concern Arkansas really has is making the success it had in Week 1 a consistent thing.
Once the Razorbacks get past Toledo, they get 2014's 25th-best offense in Texas Tech and then get thrown into the pan against 16th-ranked Texas A&M.
It wasn’t necessarily pretty, but the Tigers came out on top against Louisville in the opener. Auburn allowed 24 points to the Cardinals, but the offense deserves most of the blame.
That’s the concern for the Tigers: quarterback Jeremy Johnson.
He looked woeful for Auburn, completing just 11 of his 21 passes for 137 yards. He also threw three interceptions.
That can’t continue.
The Tigers will luckily face a get-right game in Week 2, hosting Jacksonville State. Auburn fans should hope Johnson is able to build some momentum heading into the SEC slate next week.
The biggest concern for the Gators should be monitoring their expectations. This isn’t really a team problem necessarily, but more so for the fans.
Yeah, everything looked great against New Mexico State, but remember when the Gators trounced Eastern Michigan 65-0 last season? How’d that turn out the rest of the way?
Treon Harris looked fantastic (14-of-19, 215 yards, 2 TDs), and Will Grier looked like the truth (16-of-18, 166 yards, 2 TDs), but remember that New Mexico State was the 114th-best defense in 2014. The team isn’t going to win the SEC. Settle down.
Georgia was a 51-14 winner over ULM in its opener, so what’s the Bulldogs’ top concern? Can they pass?
Nick Chubb and Keith Marshall combined for 26 carries, almost 200 yards and four touchdowns, but the Georgia quarterbacks only threw 14 passes.
While some of that was probably due to the game being called early, and another good portion was likely because they were up big, it’s still a concern until we see what Greyson Lambert can really do.
Kentucky’s biggest concern is that it nearly blew a three-touchdown lead to Louisiana-Lafayette. The Wildcats allowed 26 second-half points to the Ragin’ Cajuns and gave up 479 total yards of offense.
Kentucky starts its SEC schedule this weekend against South Carolina. The defense is going to have to play better.
LSU’s first game of the season was cancelled because of weather. So, lucky for them, the Tigers get to open their season on the road against a Top 25 team in Mississippi State.
The biggest problem facing LSU is the same as it ever was: quarterback.
Brandon Harris spent 2014 playing almost exclusively in mop-up duty, going 25-of-45 with 452 yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions. Most of those numbers came against New Mexico State, though.
Against SEC opponents, Harris combined to go 9-of-24 with 198 yards and two touchdowns and two picks.
Mississippi State allowed Southern Miss to get 413 yards of total offense in its 34-16 win over the Golden Eagles. Mississippi State’s biggest problem heading into its showdown with LSU is possession.
Southern Miss had the ball for 37:39 seconds. Much of that was due to the 38 times the Bulldogs passed.
Outside of quarterback Dak Prescott, the Bulldogs toted the ball just 20 times for 133 yards and one touchdown. They’ll need to improve that against a much better LSU team.
Missouri’s biggest problem is really simple. Which Maty Mauk do the Tigers get?
Is it the one who amazed with his beautiful touch pass to J’Mon Moore to open the game against Southeast Missouri State, or the one who looked like that guy who was playing Madden for the first time, running backward and then inexplicably throwing off his back foot into triple coverage?
The Tigers get creampuff Arkansas State in Week 2, so it probably won’t matter this week anyway.
Ole Miss slapped a 70-burger on UTM in the opener and led 41-0 at the half (the final score was 76-3). The only possible problem Ole Miss might face against Fresno State would be looking past the Bulldogs at Alabama next week.
Let’s be honest, South Carolina probably should have lost last week to North Carolina. It probably won’t lose this week against Kentucky, but it's certainly not out of the question.
The Gamecocks have a plethora of issues. The biggest one, though, is probably quarterback Connor Mitch.
Mitch looked pretty ugly before he got hurt, completing just nine of his 22 attempts for 122 yards against a UNC defense that was the 21st-worst against the pass in 2014.
Quarterback is kind of a key position, and South Carolina needs to figure that out.
The Vols gave up 557 yards of total offense, including 433 yards through the air. Bowling Green was the second-best offense in the nation last season, but this is the SEC—you shouldn’t be giving up 400 yards passing against anyone.
Things went really well for the Aggies in their debut, beating then-No. 15 Arizona State by three touchdowns. Even the defense played well, allowing fewer than 300 yards (199 passing, 92 rushing).
The biggest problem for A&M will likely be finding consistency on defense. Ball State racked up 547 total yards in its opener, so it should be a good test for the John Chavis-led defense.
The Commodores have a lot of issues, but the fact that they were only able to muster 12 points against a poor Western Kentucky defense has to be chief among them.
The Hilltoppers were the seventh-worst defense in the country in 2014, giving up a terrible 502 yards per game. What’s even worse is they were almost equally as bad against the run (229.7 YPG) and pass (272.2).
In the opener, Vandy quarterback Johnny McCrary went 18-of-34 for 217 yards. That’s not pitiful, but against a meager defense like WKU, it’s not good enough.
He also threw two picks.
On the ground, the ‘Dores were led by sophomore Ralph Webb’s 70 yards. But it took him 18 carries (including one for 19 yards) to get there. Take away his 19-yard scamper and he averaged just three yards per carry.
Stats and info courtesy of ESPN.com.
Follow Aaron Brand on Twitter @AaronBrand47.