SEC Football: MVP, Strengths and Weaknesses of Each Team

Jeremy Hillman@@SECpigskinContributor ISeptember 12, 2011

SEC Football: MVP, Strengths and Weaknesses of Each Team

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    With another Saturday chock-full of dramatic games and heart-stopping finishes behind us, two weeks of SEC football are now in the books.

    Let's try and forget all of the preseason predictions and start to look at what is actually happening on the field.

    We can't glean everything from just two weeks. However, we can start to see teams' tendencies, strengths and weaknesses.

    Read on to see what we have learned from each SEC team's first two games.

What Do We Know About Alabama?

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    MVP After Two Weeks: RB Trent Richardson (while Richardson's average yards per carry isn't very strong at this point, at just 3.7 yards per rush attempt, he has gotten the ball in the end zone for the Tide. The junior running back has scored five of Alabama's nine touchdowns this season)

    Strength: Rushing defense (the Alabama defense has limited its first two opponents to just 98 rushing yards, combined. Giving up just 49 rush yards per game is an impressive start to the season for this talented defensive unit)

    Weakness: Passing offense (only three SEC teams have a lower quarterback rating than Alabama. The main reasons for the low 113 rating for the Tide quarterbacks are accuracy, completing a low 58 percent of passes, and interceptions, four picks to just two touchdowns in the first two games)

    What we know: The dominate Alabama defense, and a good running game, will put Alabama in position to be able to win every game on its schedule. However, a more efficient passing game must develop for the Tide to stay undefeated in SEC play.

What Do We Know About Arkansas?

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    MVP After Two Weeks: WR Jarious Wright (a member of the dangerous Razorback receiving unit, Wright had hauled in 11 receptions for 171 yards and three touchdowns)

    Strength: Passing offense (quarterback Tyler Wilson is connecting with his talented receivers for 368 yards per game over the first two weeks. That leads the SEC and is good for eighth in the nation)

    Weakness: Penalties (in the first two games Arkansas was flagged for 15 penalties, averaging over 60 yards in penalty yardage per contest. These mental errors could end up hurting them in tougher games)

    What we know: With a game over a lower division school in Week 1 and against overmatched New Mexico in Week 2, no one really knows how good Arkansas is yet. However, this could be a dangerous team and if they cut out the mental mistakes they could definitely battle for the SEC Championship.

What Do We Know About Auburn?

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    MVP After Two Weeks: RB Michael Dyer (the star sophomore back averaged 103 rushing yards in the first two games and has scored four touchdowns on the season)

    Strength: Kick Returns (the Tigers are averaging an impressive 31 yards per kick return, good for second best in the SEC after two games, returned a kick for a touchdown in Week 1 and had several long returns in Week 2. Auburn is strong in special teams this season and are winning the field position battle)

    Weakness: Rush defense (after two weeks of games, Auburn is last in the SEC at stopping the run, allowing 280 rushing yards per game)

    What we know: Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, and running back Michael Dyer will do enough to keep Auburn in every game they play. However, the young defense is struggling mightily and must improve in stopping the run if Auburn wants to continue to be a Top 25 team.

What Do We Know About Florida?

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    MVP After Two Weeks: RB Chris Rainey (the speedy back has 198 rushing yards, two touchdowns, 110 receiving yards and a touchdown in just two games)

    Strength: Rushing offense (Florida has two dynamic backs, Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey, and are averaging a big 248 rushing yards per game)

    Weakness: Passing offense (there have been good plays and yards for the Florida passing game, but just one touchdown pass in two games against weaker competition. There were also three interceptions thrown in Week 1)

    What we know: The Gators have looked solid, especially in the run game and defense over the first two games. The passing game will have to continue to improve and avoid costly turnovers for Florida to become a legitimate contender for the SEC title.

What Do We Know About Georgia?

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    MVP After Two Weeks: QB Aaron Murray (the Bulldog quarterback has thrown for 484 yards and six touchdowns against tough competition)

    Strength: Passing offense (the Bulldog offense has put up an average 242 passing yards per game in the first two weeks. Impressive since both teams they played are Top 10 ranked programs)

    Weakness: Passing defense (Georgia has given up 80 points in two weeks, mostly due to a secondary that is allowing over 200 yards of passing per game)

    What we know: Georgia is 0-2 and head coach Mark Richt is squarely on the hottest of hot seats. Yet, Georgia still may be one of the best 25 teams in the country. Losing to Boise State and South Carolina is no shameful act, but the Bulldogs have to improve on pass defense to have a shot at turning this season around.

What Do We Know About Kentucky?

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    MVP After Two Weeks: S Winston Guy (the star safety has two interceptions and 23 tackles in just two games)

    Strength: Rushing defense (Kentucky is giving up just 114 rushing yards per game so far in 2011)

    Weakness: Passing offense (one of the worst passing offenses in the nation, Kentucky has averaged just 105 passing yards per game this season)

    What we know: The good news is that Kentucky is 2-0. The bad news is that they struggled to get those wins against less-than-impressive competition. The defense has been solid but quarterback Morgan Newton has to improve and give the Wildcats a passing threat or Kentucky could struggle in SEC play.  

What Do We Know About LSU?

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    MVP After Two Weeks: RB Michael Ford (the Tiger back has 168 rushing yards and four touchdowns in the first two games)

    Strength: Rushing defense (when you play Oregon, a dynamic running offense, and still average giving up just 45 rushing yards per game this season, that is very impressive)

    Weakness: Sacks (the LSU defense has been more than solid over the first two games. However, they have only tallied one sack so far this season. They rank last in the SEC in that stat)

    What we know: LSU had a huge win over Top 5 ranked Oregon and stand at 2-0 on the young season. They have all they need to challenge for an SEC and national title with a solid defense and running game, but still have a very tough schedule ahead and will need to be sharp in the pass game and apply more quarterback pressure to get through undefeated.

What Do We Know About Mississippi State?

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    MVP After Two Weeks: RB Vick Ballard (Ballard leads the SEC in rushing with 301 yards and four touchdowns over the first two weeks)

    Strength: Rushing offense (the Bulldog offense leads the conference in rushing yards per game with an eye-popping 321 yards per contest)

    Weakness: Rush defense (Mississippi State is giving up a disappointing 200 rushing yards per game to start the 2011 season)

    What we know: The Bulldogs have a very strong running game and an effective pass defense. The issue is in stopping the run. Even with the disappointing loss to Auburn, if Mississippi State can tighten up the run defense, they still have a shot at upsetting some top teams and making a major bowl game.

What Do We Know About Ole Miss?

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    MVP After Two Weeks: DB Damien Jackson (the senior defensive back has racked up 20 tackles already this season and is a leader on the Rebel defense)

    Strength: Turnover margin (after finishing last season with a poor -6 turnover ration, the Rebels have started 2011 with a solid +2 margin. A very important area to show improvement)

    Weakness: Passing defense (Ole Miss has struggled to stop the pass, especially against BYU, and have given up over 400 passing yards in two games)

    What we know: Ole Miss had a tough one-point loss to BYU to open the season and now sit at 1-1. The Rebels have to improve their pass defense, and hope that quarterback Zack Stoudt is the answer at QB and that he continues to improve as the season progresses. If not, it could be another losing season in Oxford.

What Do We Know About South Carolina?

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    MVP After Two Weeks: RB Marcus Lattimore (the talented back has 288 rushing yards and four touchdowns after two games)

    Strength: Rushing offense (the Gamecock offense has rolled up 473 rushing yards in just two games)

    Weakness: Passing defense (South Carolina has allowed an average of 254 passing yards per game over the first two weeks. That is the worst in the conference)

    What we know: East Carolina and Georgia are good competition and the Gamecocks beat both of them to start the season. South Carolina should make it to Atlanta as the SEC East Champions, but need to get better in pass defense to have any thoughts of winning a title.

What Do We Know About Tennessee?

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    MVP After Two Weeks: QB Tyler Bray (an emerging star, Bray has lit up the stat books in the first two weeks with 698 passing yards and seven touchdowns)

    Strength: Passing game (Bray has been stellar and the receiving corps has been solid, including receiver Justin Hunter who has 301 yards in just two games)

    Weakness: Passing defense (the Vol defense has given up 465 passing yards over the first two games. That ranks Tennessee second to last in the SEC for this stat category)

    What we know: Cincinnati is a good football team and Tennessee beat them soundly. At 2-0 the Vols could be a surprise in the conference. However, as the SEC schedule begins, Tennessee must play tighter pass defense to reach their full potential.

What Do We Know About Vanderbilt?

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    MVP After Two Weeks: LB Chris Marve (the leader of the Vanderbilt defense has racked up 19 tackles already in 2011)

    Strength: Rush defense (the Commodore defense has limited their first two opponents to an average of just 89 rushing yards per game)

    Weakness: Pass offense (Vanderbilt has just over 300 yards in passing offense in both of the first two games combined)

    What we know: That was a huge win on Saturday for Vanderbilt. Beating a team from a BCS conference (Connecticut) was big for new head coach James Franklin. The Commodores are 2-0 and with a capable defense and running game, could upset an SEC team this season.