What We Learned from the SEC in Week 1
Freshman Jalen Hurts accounted for four touchdowns in his first game for Alabama. (Source: Alabama Athletics)Two top 5 five teams lost in the opening weekend, and another still has a game to play Monday against the No. 11 team. Things are getting crazy and we’re not even to Labor Day. This is what we’ve been waiting for.We can thank the College Football Playoff for this. Week 1 is now more like bowl season thanks to the four team playoff because teams are no longer fearful a loss will doom their championship hopes.There were four games featuring two ranked teams, but other matchups like Notre Dame vs. Texas (Sunday night), Stanford vs. Kansas State, Clemson vs. Auburn, LSU vs. Wisconsin and UCLA vs. Texas A were thrilling and upset scare producing.Next week is mostly cupcakes, but Tennessee will play Virginia Tech at a freaking NASCAR track and Week 3 brings Ohio State vs. Oklahoma.These are the kind of Power 5 inter conference matchups we’ve been wanting for years. It’s like NCAA basketball bracket busters, but better, because 1) it’s football and 2) it’s the first week of the season.This also means that there is no better time to eliminate preseason polls. If there was any week that illustrates how pointless they are, it was this one.Here’s a look at what we learned from watching SEC games in Week 1.1. LSU did what LSU does. Leonard Fournette was characteristic with 138 yards in a 16 14 loss to Wisconsin, and was also No. 5 LSU’s second leading receiver. It’s that last part that should be troubling for the Tigers (0 1).He caught three passes for 38 yards, and yes, that was second best on the team. That can be blamed on LSU’s philosophy that the forward pass is just a flash in the pan trend.Brandon Harris is the perfect quarterback for that system because he’s not someone you trust to move the ball through the air. LSU’s one offensive touchdown did come on a pass, but credit the defense and Fournette for that score because it came right after a turnover and Fournette got them in the red zone. Credit the defense for LSU’s other touchdown too because they actually scored it on a pick six.Remember when Les Miles was trying to be run out of town because he was doing Les Miles things? Yeah, that’s still happening.2. Jalen Hurts is a guy to know. So, about that Alabama quarterback situation, it looks OK. Blake Barnett started, but he was the starter in name only. Jalen Hurts was the guy to watch. His numbers weren’t great (118 yards passing, 32 yards rushing) but he threw for two touchdowns and rushed for two more in No. 1 Alabama’s 52 6 win over No. 20 Southern California.1Afterward, Nick Saban pretended the rest of the world doesn’t have eyes and said a decision had only been made "for now." Then he snarled (or maybe not he always looks like that). Barnett did OK too for the Tide (1 0) throwing for 100 yards and a touchdown.But most likely, this one can be put to bed. It’s the running back situation that’s actually much more competitive. Damien Harris started and rushed for 138 yards, but Bo Scarbrough had more carries and got a touchdown.That RB rotation could be much more interesting. The initial takeaway favors Harris because his speed works better as a read option complement to Hurts than Scarbrough’s power while Scarbrough is a better fit for the red zone.3. Maybe we should cool it with some of the preseason hype. Every day there’s another hype video for somebody, and Tennessee had one over the summer and another one a few days before opening the season against Appalachian State.Then the No. 9 Volunteers went out and came within a breath of losing to Appalachian State. If not for the Mountaineers’ offense being one dimensional, App. St. missing a PAT, App. St. missing a field goal and an out of nowhere fumble recovery in the end zone in overtime, Tennessee’s 20 13 win could have easily been a loss.Whatever that was Tennessee (1 0) put on the field, it wasn’t the No. 9 team in the country, because top 10 teams usually have decent play from at least one of their lines. Both of Tennessee’s were detriments.So, yeah, when you find yourself thinking about championships in July and talking about "leaving our legacy on the field," don’t blow it all up and put your coach on the defensive in Week 1. Own it.2Jones believes SEC East is "most complete it has been from top to bottom in a long, long period of time. Anyone is capable of winning it."4. Gus Malzahn is a mad scientist. Ever watch old movies or cartoons where there’s some deranged old man pouring different colored liquids into jars, mixing them up and laughing maniacally? That’s how Malzahn sees quarterbacks.In a 19 13 loss to No. 2 Clemson, Auburn’s offensive formula was one part Jeremy Johnson, two parts Sean White, half a part John Franklin III and kick. As you can imagine, it didn’t work. White and Johnson both threw an interception, and neither had a touchdown. Franklin attempted one pass for 3 yards.3Under Malzahn, Auburn (0 1) has always been a hurry up, run oriented offense, but Clemson shut down the running game and Malzahn ran quarterbacks in and out at will in the middle of drives, hampering its ability to be "Auburn fast." But despite all that, Auburn was a Hail Mary away from a win thanks to some pseudo Clemsoning.