SEC West: Week One Thoughts
Auburn, LSU, and Alabama all won convincingly in their season openers, making the chase for the West crown look more exciting with each passing second. Here are some highlights from the SEC West week one games.
Talk about making a statement.
Sure, a few people out there picked Bama to win, but no one thought they would absolutely dominate Clemson. This game was over as soon as it started.
The Crimson Tide was solid in every aspect of the game.
They owned the trenches. John Parker Wilson didn’t throw an interception and hit eight different receivers. The running game accounted for 239 yards. Leigh Tiffin hit four of five field goals, including a 54-yard bomb.
James Davis and CJ Spiller were held to 20 yards rushing, and including sack yards, the Tide held the Tigers to zero rushing yards. Zero.
Perhaps most importantly, though, Alabama never turned it over and caused two Clemson turnovers.
Overall, this was the perfect start for Alabama’s season—and a nightmare beginning for Clemson, and the entire ACC for that matter.
Bobby Petrino’s Hogs narrowly pulled out a win against Western Illinois.
Trailing by 10 with 10 minutes remaining, the Razorbacks leaned on Casey Dick, who saved the day with big passing and running plays. Criticized early in his career, Dick ended the day with 318 yards, including completions to eight different receivers.
I’m not sure Arkansas had eight guys catch a ball all last year—something Petrino is obviously trying to change.
Overall, it was an ugly day for the Hogs, but, alas, they registered the win.
In two weeks, the Hogs travel to Austin to play Texas. Unless they make huge strides in a short period of time, that one could get out of hand.
In a lot of ways, Auburn’s 34-0 win yesterday was very similar to South Carolina’s 34-0 win over NC State this past Thursday. A look at the final score would make each game look like a dominating performance.
But check the box scores and listen to the coaches, and you’ll hear a much different story.
This was supposed to be the unveiling of a new high-powered offense.
Instead, the Tigers shot duds for much of the game. In fact, Auburn didn’t score an offensive touchdown in the entire first half, instead getting their TDs on a fumble return and punt return.
Through three quarters, Auburn had 28 passing yards. They ended the game with 85 yards in the air.
Yes, they ran for 321 yards, making the passing game unnecessary, but it’s not like Auburn never put in it in the air: They threw it 27 times, completing only 13. Worse yet is that the Tigers only managed 3.1 yards per catch.
Auburn’s defense, not surprisingly, was relentless, only allowing two third down conversions in 18 Warhawk attempts.
Southern Miss and Mississippi State are Auburn’s next two opponents.
At this point, it’s virtually impossible not to respect the job Les Miles has done. The Perrilloux saga aside, Miles and his team had to face a dangerous App State team—at 11 AM no less.
Despite all the talk of the upset in the making, and with another hurricane approaching the Gulf Coast, Miles’s team came out and stuck it to the Mountaineers. Plain and simple, the Tigers overwhelmed App State with a punishing rushing attack.
By halftime, the game was well out of reach, as LSU not only ran up and down the field but also held the Mountaineers and Armanti Edwards scoreless for the first 30 minutes.
Eventually both Andrew Hatch and Jarrett Lee tossed touchdown passes, but really, LSU showed very little of their passing attack—much like many of the SEC teams.
Not surprisingly, Mountaineer coaches and players marveled at the speed of LSU’s players, which is what clearly gave the advantage to the Tigers on both sides of the ball.
Through Saturday, the Bulldogs were the only SEC team to lose.
After a promising start to their game against Louisiana Tech, the Bulldogs were shut out in the second half.
For a while, it looked like Mississippi State was reinventing itself, going to the air often and with success early on. Quarterback Wesley Carroll was crisp in the first half, hitting several different receivers for good-size gains.
But the second half proved disastrous for Mississippi State and Carroll, as three third-quarter turnovers put the momentum squarely on the side of Louisiana Tech.
And now the future of Wesley Carroll is up in the air (pardon the terrible pun). Backup quarterback Tyson Lee wasn’t spectacular, but he managed the game—and avoided turning the ball over.
After last year’s feel good story, this loss dampens the outlook for a successful 2008-2009 campaign—and might just end any hope of a bowl game for the Bulldogs.
The Houston Nutt Era is off to a great start in the win-loss column and offensive stat categories. But defensively, the Rebels have some work to do, as the Ole Miss defense was a sieve in Saturday’s game against Memphis.
The visiting Tigers racked up 458 total yards—265 in the air and 188 on the ground. Two turnovers did the Tigers in, however, as each led to scores for the Rebels.
The Tigers owned the time of possession, converted 50 percent of their third down opportunities, and rolled up a whopping 28 first downs. In the end, however, the Tigers couldn’t get the ball in the endzone enough.
Jevan Snead’s much anticipated debut was up and down. He hit a few good balls, but only finished 10-22. The real offensive spark came from junior Dexter McCluster, who did his best Darren McFadden impression against the Tigers—running for 64 yards and a TD and catching four passes for 61 yards.
The improved offense should give Rebel fans optimism, but remember: Memphis is a middle of the road Conference USA team.
Ole Miss’s game against Wake Forest next week should tell us much more about how the Rebels will look this year.
For the SEC East recap, click here.
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