With some huge week one matchups in the SEC we have two writers covering the Conference in the SEC Week 1 Review. Jordan is helped out buy star host Tom as he had some spare time to get involved and stay in the loop.
Tennessee kicked off their 2021 season with an expected victory 38-6 over Bowling Green of the MAC. The Vols will be looking to put the off-field disruption of the 2020 season in the rear view mirror. A convincing though expected victory over weaker opposition is the first step on a long road to normality in Knoxville. Josh Heupel’s reign got off to a strong start. The home side were up 14-0 at the end of the 1st Quarter thanks to rushing touchdowns from debutant Quarterback Joe Milton III and Jabari Small. It was a mixed debut for Milton, who started the game 10/12. However, he went just 1/11 after that, and fumbled the ball away in the second half. Luckily for Tennessee, they still ran rampant on the ground with 24 unanswered points in the second half. With Hendon Hooker and Harrison Bailey waiting in the wings, the pressure is on Milton already to deliver in Knoxville. For The Vols, Week 1 was the first baby step on a return to respectability.
Missouri also kicked off their 2021 SEC season with a 34-24 win over a stubborn Central Michigan side. It was the first non-conference game for Mizzou in two seasons, and the team were able to deliver a 13th win in a row for Eliah Drinkwitz over MAC opponents. The Tigers entered the game as 14 point favourites, but this game still had the makings of an upset. Fortunately for Missouri, Tyler Badie was in impressive early season form. He finished the season curtain raiser with 197 yards, a touchdown on the ground and one in the air for good measure. However, it was the defence that won the day, with 9 total sacks. Six of those were at the hands of Blaze Alldredge. It was the most sacks by a Tigers team since 2009, and the most by a single player in 15 years. Drinkwitz will be hoping that the defence can bring that same level of pressure in The Tigers’ Week 2 all-SEC matchup with Kentucky.
Kentucky were able to win their opening game with a 45-10 rout of UL Monroe. Will Levis is far better at quarterbacking this Wildcats offence than he is at eating bananas! He ended the day with 367 yards and 4 TDs over a UL Monroe team that was outclassed from the opening kickoff. The Warhawks took a shock lead when Kaydn Roach went over the line in the 1st Quarter. This shocked The Wildcats into life, who scored an unanswered 38 points to take this game away from their visitors at Kroger Field. Chris Rodriguez had 125 yards on the ground, whilst
Wan’Dale Robisnon and Josh Ali both surpassed 100 receiving yards. It was a cupcake to start the year for Kentucky, who will have a harder time getting past Missouri in Week 2. As the old saying says, you can only beat the team that is put in front of you. Mark Stoops’ troops did just that in Week 1.
South Carolina enjoyed a dream start to their 2021 season in the SEC with a blowout 46-0 win over Eastern Illinois. Shane Beamer could not have wished for a better debut as The Gamecocks’ Head Coach. Until this week, Zeb Noland was a graduate coach on the program. In an unprecedented move, Coach Beamer named the 24 year old Noland, who had been working with the team’s receivers in the offseason, as starting QB for the season earlier in the week. Noland had just 13 completions, but 4 of those were TD passes. Not bad for a guy who was hoping to be working on the sidelines in the 2021 season. The Gamecocks new HC promised to incorporate “Beamer Ball” in Columbia. It was the defence where that was most visible, conceding just 109 total yards and enjoying the program’s first shutout victory since 2008. South Carolina will hope to defeat ECU in Week 2, and enter their matchup with The Georgia Bulldogs 2-0 the following week.
Vanderbilt was unable to make it a clean sweep for SEC East teams in Week One with an embarrassing defeat to East Tennessee State. Vandy took the lead through a Joseph Bulovas field goal from 53 yards. Unfortunately, the team would only have that long range kick to celebrate in front of their home fans. The Commodores had 23 first downs to the visitors’ 13, and had more total yards (321) than ETSU’s 314.
In the end, it was turnovers that cost Vandy the game. Ken Seals threw two interceptions, clearly pressured by the running game’s inability to establish the ground game. The team averaged 2.7 yards per carry on 31 attempts. As a result, the offence became predictable, and Seals was unable to keep the ETSU defence guessing. The bad news for Vandy is that they face two tough out-of-conference matchups in the coming weeks. The good news? They play UConn in October.
It was an expected win for Florida over FAU at The Swamp, but problems are bubbling under the surface at the QB position. Emory Jones struggled to fill the boots of Kyle Trask in the team’s 35-14 victory. Dan Mullen appears committed with Jones as his starter. However, the performance of backup Anthony Richardson. Richardson completed just 3 passes, but it was with his feet where he was most devastating. He rushed for 160 yards and a score on seven
attempts. Jones however threw two interceptions. He is likely to maintain the starting role for the Week 2 fixture with USF, but improvements are needed immediately. Just around the corner is a Week 3 matchup with Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide. Right now, The Gators aren’t in the same stratosphere as ‘Bama. One player who can be proud of his efforts in this victory is Zach Carter. Carter had three sacks. Gervon Dexter recovered two fumbles as the Florida defence dominated The Owls. Bigger tasks are ahead for Mullen and his team.
The Georgia Bulldogs came out on top in the pick of the Week 1 college football fixtures with a 10-3 victory over The Clemson Tigers. Kirby Smart’s defence made a fierce claim as the best defence in the nation. Tigers QB DJ Uiagalelei was harassed from the first whistle. Smart knew that his defence was to be feared, but even he could not have imagined the impact his defensive front would have on Dabo Swinney’s offence. The Bulldogs had seven sacks on Uiagalelei, and limited the rushing attack to just two total yards. That’s right, two. The front four carried the side to an opening game win where the offence never really got going.
JT Daniels didn’t seem to have the understanding with his receivers that a second year of practice should provide. Freshman Tight End Brock Bowers was the exception, hauling in 6 receptions for 43 yards. If the defence maintains that level of performance throughout the season, no program will have an easy day against The Bulldogs. Not even ‘Bama. Things need to get much, much better on offence though if Smart wants to top the SEC in 2021.
Written By Tom Scott
Texas A&M found their spark in the second half to take down Kent State 41-10 ay Kyle Field. The Aggies who are being tipped as a team with an outside chance of the playoffs, looked anything but in the first half. It started well enough with a 75 yard opening drive, that resulted in the first of two touchdowns on the night for receiver Ainias Smith. After adding a field goal, Texas A&M QB Haynes King threw 2 interceptions in the 2 nd quarter. A further one followed in the second half from himself and another from 2 nd string QB Zach Calzada.
All that aside, the Aggies fell just short over 600 offensive yards on the day. RB pair Isaiah Spiller and Devon Achane both having 100 yards games. Achane was really impressive, running in 2 touchdowns and averaging 10.3 yards on 12 carries. The defence was on form, keeping Kent State QB Dustin Crum quiet in the passing game. Leon O’Neil Jr. picked the Golden Flashes QB off twice, returning one for a 68 yard score. A solid performance from the Aggies, the turnovers will need to be addressed before welcoming Colorado this Saturday.
In the first ever meeting between the two teams, LSU went down 38-27 to UCLA of the PAC-12. In what was meant to be the season LSU bounced back from a 2020 to forget, it wasn’t the start they wanted. The defence could not compete with the Bruins offence. The defensive line was bullied by an excellent UCLA offensive front, especially in the run game. Every run play seem to go for big chunk yardage, giving up 213 rushing yards to RBs Charbonnet and Brown on only 28 carries. Missed tackles in the secondary, even from star studded CB Derek Stingley Jr. The Run game was non-existent, 49 yards from 25 attempts is not going to help anybody.
Max Johnson was starting only his third game at QB for LSU and did relatively well, with little help from is offensive line. The sophomore managed figures of 26-46. 330 yards, 3 touchdowns and one interception, while being hit and harassed by the UCLA defence all night. One bright spark for the Tigers was wide receiver Kayshon Boutte, who finished the game with 148 yards and 3 touchdowns. After such a bad performance you could do with a get right game. LSU have that when welcoming McNeese to Baton Rouge.
Three 4th quarter touchdowns for Arkansas saw off a resolute Rice 38-17 in Fayetteville Saturday evening. It looked bleak for the Razorbacks early in the 3rd quarter, when Rice scored their second touchdown of the night to lead 17-7. 31 unanswered points followed from Arkansas, with the late flurry of touchdowns a positive going into next week.
Nearly all of the damage came on the ground, with QB KJ Jefferson notching up 2 rushing touchdowns for himself. The big sophomore Jefferson also rushed for 89 yards, but was less affective through the air, with figures of 12-21, 128 yards, 1 TD and an interception. For now he is the starting QB, but will need to play better with pressure coming from behind. Trelon Smith ran in a 2 yard TD early in the 4th quarter to give the Razorbacks the lead. He also got the season off to a flier with his 3rd 100 yard game of his college career. The defence picked of Rice QB Wiley Green 3 times, twice by Jalen Catalon, with Montaric Brown snagging the other one. Arkansas will be hoping to take the 4th quarter momentum into next weeks home match against Texas.
Mississippi State avoided a week 1 upset loss, courtesy of late touchdowns to triumph 35-34 over Louisiana Tech. The win was made extra special as it was the biggest comeback win in school history, down 20 with 13 minutes left in the 4th quarter. They will not want to be in that position against better teams. Will Rodgers threw for 370 yards, spreading the ball about nicely to his receivers.
It wasn’t all good for Rodgers, he had the ball stripped out when sacked and had one throw picked off, which resulted in 6 points for Louisiana Tech. Turnovers were a big issue, 6 in total during the game. Ball security is something that needs to be looked at, better teams will punish the Bulldogs. Jo’quavious Marks did look after the ball. Marks ended the day with 3 touchdowns, one passing one and two rushing that were part off the 4th quarter comeback. Even after the impressive 4th quarter turnaround, it could have still been a first week loss. A missed 46 yard field goal for Louisiana Tech ended the game. A tough trip to NC State is on the schedule next, where the Bulldogs wont get away with sloppy play.
Auburn made light work of Akron in Bryan Harsin’s first game, dismantling them 60-10. The scoreline suggests it was comfortable, which is exactly what it was. Both sides of the ball were dominant, the defence limited Akron to 191 passing yards, 97 of them coming in the 4th quarter along with their 10 points. The Zips didn’t even get into positive rushing yards, mainly due to QB Kato Nelson losing negative yards. The defensive line were a nightmare all night, combining for 6 sacks.
The Auburn offence had 8 touchdowns, 5 on the ground and 3 coming from Bo Nix’s arm. Nix had a satisfactory performance, he didn’t really have to get out of second gear. He did average 12.5 yards per completion. 315 of the 612 offensive yards came on the ground. Tank Bigsby and Freshman Jarquez Hunter both had 100 yard rushing games. This made it easy for Nix to make big plays, with Akron filling the box with more players to deal with the run game. Yes, bigger tests are ahead for the Tigers team and it wont come from next weeks opponents Alabama State.
Alabama started their season as defending champions with a comfortable 44-13 win against Miami. If anybody had any doubts about the new crop of talent in the line up, those doubts were silenced in emphatic style. Freshman QB Bryce Young was everything Saban said he was. Young finished the game with figures of 27-38, 4 touchdowns and a QBR of 94.2. Impressive, but the way he handled the pressure from Miami and refused just to tuck the ball under his arm and run was good to see.
Ohio State transfer Jameson Williams got off to a flyer. The wide receiver had 4 receptions for 126 yards, one a 94 yard TD from a throw from Young inside his own end zone. Cameron Latu stepped up to be the starting tight end after an injury to Jahleel Billingsley. The Junior was making his first career start and managed to snag himself 2 touchdowns on 3 reception in the first half. The defence performed well, led by impressive linebacker Will Anderson, who just keeps showing up. 9 tackles and a sack is a decent start for the impressive sophomore. Next up for the Crimson Tide is FCS team Mercer.
Even with an absent Lane Kiffin, Ole Miss still managed to roll over Louisville by 19 points, in 43-24 win. The Rebels head coach was unable to attend the game as he was in quarantine, after contracting the covid-19 virus. QB Matt Corral had a very good game, Corral completed 22 of 32 passes for 381 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 55 yards, including a 6 yard score.
After a weekend where many of the top QBs stuttered, Corral showed great poise in the pocket and moved the ball nicely down the field. There was a few seconds of concern in the 2nd quarter, when he took a nasty helmet-to-helmet hit when sliding for a first down. The Louisville linebacker was ejected for the late hit. Corral took a few seconds on the ground, then jumped back up and straight back into the game. Wide receiver Dontario Drummond was the beneficiary of Corral spraying the ball around. The Senior caught 9 passes for 177 yards and a touchdown, his biggest return to date.
Top running back prospect Jerrion Ealy showed a snippet of his dual threat ability, picking up 88 total scrimmage yards and a rushing touchdown. Even the defence showed up, especially in the first half, where they shut out the Cardinals offence. They might have had to wait till last for their first game, but the Rebels fans will be bullish about their season going forward. Next up a they welcome Austin Peay of the FCS.
Written by Jordan Merrit – @Jordm87