With week two of the college football season in the books, a few thoughts from around the SEC:
Alabama: Ugly showing against a somewhat underrated Western Kentucky team, and the Jalston Fowler injury will likely be felt in the stretch run. Offensive tackle play has been surprisingly spotty, but AJ McCarron threw the ball well down the field and JUCO transfer Deion Belue looked much better at corner. The Fayetteville road trip now looks far less daunting, and it's conceivable Alabama might not face another ranked team until late October. 'Bama is among the nation's elite, but the week one media crowning was premature; work needs to be done in a few areas.
Arkansas: Hope John L. Smith decided to rent in Fayetteville. Knile Davis looks fine, but the offensive line has been bad and it has kept him in check. The defense practically exists in name only at this point. 55 points and almost 900 yards of total offense allowed against Jacksonville State and Louisiana-Monroe? Yikes. The key to the ULM upset was the apparent concussion suffered by Tyler Wilson. With no running game and no defense, the passing attack went lifeless when he exited the game and from that point moving forward it was just an absolute train wreck on both sides of the ball in Little Rock. Not sure if Wilson will see the field this weekend against Alabama, but he will have to play and play at a very high level for the Hogs to follow the ULM upset with an even bigger upset of 'Bama.
Auburn: Ugliest football Auburn has played since 2008, just thoroughly beaten on both sides by an underwhelming Mississippi State team. Through thirty-five minutes of football, Kiehl Frazier had completed only two passes on the day for a total of two passing yards; he's a smart, talented kid, but he's a quarterback-in-name-only at this point. Young offensive line looked overwhelmed on the road against an SEC foe. Defense looked bad as usual, with a porous run defense and bad tackling proving costly. Anything north of a 1-4 start would be a surprise at this point. Fun fact of the day: Auburn is 107th or worse nationally in six major statistical categories.
Florida: Arguably the biggest win to date for Will Muschamp. Jeff Driskell managed the game well enough, but the big takeaway is that Florida finally found some semblance of an interior running game with Mike Gillislee. Even bigger surprise? The Gators didn't beat themselves with dumb penalties, and the defense finally played with some discipline and displayed some decent tackling ability in space. Must-win game for Florida this weekend if they expect to compete in the SEC East this season. Can't afford an early divisional loss with LSU, Georgia, and South Carolina still on the schedule.
Georgia: UGA had a fight on their hands for three quarters against Missouri, but dominated the final seventeen minutes. Aaron Murray played well, even if he wasn't overly exceptional, and he and the passing game compensated for a running game that never really took off. Jarvis Jones can probably lay claim to the title of best linebacker in the country at this stage. Big for Georgia to avoid the upset, as now they will get their suspended defensive starters back and have games against Florida Atlantic and Vanderbilt to get prepared for key match-ups against South Carolina and Tennessee.
Kentucky: Ugly first quarter leads to an easy blowout, though the defense continues to give up a lot of yardage. Maxwell Smith had a big day at quarterback, but he'll need to do that against a viable opponent before anyone reads much into it. Can this team beat Western Kentucky this weekend? 'Cats only opened a 4.5-point favorite.
LSU: Best performance of any team in the country in week two. Had Odell Beckham not donated three points with the opening kick-off fumble, Washington would have been shut out. Zach Mettenberger had a strong showing, and the tailback rotation was threatening as usual. The offensive line was fine without starting left tackle Chris Faulk, who went down for the year with a knee injury last week, but even with good depth up front that is just too big of a loss at such a critical position to not feel an impact later on down the line. The defense was absolutely dominant, and the defensive line just controls games at the point of attack. Might have some issues on the back end, but it's going to take a great offensive line to even allow an opposing offense the opportunity to exploit them there.
Ole Miss: Solid showing against UTEP, especially the big offensive output. With Texas coming to town this weekend, harsh realities for Ole Miss ought to be coming with the 'Horns. Enjoy the scrumptious September cupcakes while you can, Colonel Reb, the final two months should prove ugly.
Mississippi State: Make that 1-12 against SEC West teams not named Ole Miss and temporary sole possession of first place in the SEC West. You go ahead and take those victory laps, Dan. Tyler Russell played fairly well but routinely held onto the ball too long. Turnovers will be an issue against better defenses if that keeps up. Wide receiver corps looks solid. Defense played really well and forced numerous turnovers, but on the whole it's hard to make any meaningful evaluations given how poorly the opponent has fared this season. Best news for State? Three cupcakes coming up, and they should be 5-0 with Tennessee coming to Starkvegas. These 2A schedules just come in so handy.
Missouri: Gave Georgia a go of it for three quarters, but fell apart late. Turnovers hurt them and a lack of a running game eventually made the offense one-dimensional, which just allowed Jarvis Jones to go off. For a guy who has essentially been a borderline recruiting bust, I'm not sure why Sheldon Richardson is running his mouth. One catch for five yards is probably not how Missouri envisioned Dorial Green-Beckham's first taste of big-time football. Losing left tackle Elvis Fisher to a knee injury could be major loss. Either way, Mizzou better not feel sorry for themselves with Arizona State and South Carolina up next.
South Carolina: Back-up quarterback Dylan Thompson led the romp of East Carolina, going 21-37 for 330 yards and three touchdowns while playing in place of the injured Connor Shaw. Weak opponent, but at least some sign of quality depth at the QB position. Only thirteen carries for Marcus Lattimore, which is a good thing. Strange day for the defense, which gave up only ten points and forced five turnovers, yet nevertheless allowed 400 yards and 18 first downs. Jadeveon Clowney suffered a rib injury, but he isn't expected to miss anything long-term, though he might sit this weekend with UAB coming to town. The Missouri game in two weeks should be interesting.
Tennessee: Justin Hunter lit up the Georgia State defense in a boring romp, and Tyler Bray had a nearly perfect day throwing the football. Still not sure the Vols have much of a running game, and a fairly pedestrian day for the tailbacks against an overmatched defense didn't do much to counter that notion. Michael Palardy missed another extra point and an early field goal, which earned him some time on the bench, so placekicking is an issue. No two ways about it: the Florida game this weekend is a career defining game for Dooley.
Texas A&M: New year, new conference, new coaching regime, same old story in Aggieland. Looked like A&M could pull away in the late second quarter, but it fizzled from there. Johnny Manziel played respectable football in his debut, but he has to make more plays down the field in the passing game and the Aggies must get more out of Christine Michael. Defense looked about as undisciplined and inconsistent as it always does. Kevin Sumlin lost some credibility with his retracted suspensions with the cupcake season opener being washed out. Overall a disappointing loss, but a respectable showing in their SEC debut.
Vanderbilt: Ugly loss against Northwestern in a must-win game, giving up seventeen points in the fourth quarter to drop a close one. Jordan Rodgers played pretty well, but this team won't go far with Zac Stacy having only 36 yards on the ground. Vandy will need at least one bona fide upset now to become bowl eligible. Not where they wanted to be two weeks into the season.