Week Two in the SEC: A recap of league action
In week two of the SEC season, the Road Rebels triumphed, the Tide rolled, Georgia hunkered down, the Gators chomped, and that Mississippi State bandwagon hit a bump in the road.
Here is what we learned after Saturday in the conference.
OLE MISS 42, NO. 23 KENTUCKY 41 (OT)
Folks are quickly learning Elijah Moore is not the only receiver at Ole Miss. Although Moore had ten catches, it was Jonathan Mingo who hurt Kentucky the most. The sophomore notched eight catches for 128 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Tight end Kenny Yeboah had a touchdown as a part of his three-catch, 83-yard performance. Defenses around the league are going to have to start picking their poison when the Rebels’ offense is on the field. QB Matt Corral was superb — click here to learn more about his stellar performance.
Kentucky could have – and probably should have – won this game. The Wildcats ran for over 400 yards with three players rushing for over 100 yards…..and they lost!! There were just too many mistakes. Kentucky committed eight penalties, fumbled at the goal line after a mental gaffe kept a touchdown off the scoreboard, missed a field goal and the all-important conversion in overtime. Forget the SEC, mistakes like those will not win a game in any league.
NO. 3 FLORIDA 38, SOUTH CAROLINA 24
With regards to Texas A&M, the stadium in Gainesville might be the real ‘Kyle Field’ in the SEC. Kyle Trask and Kyle Pitts could be the most lethal duo in the conference. Trask was a surgical 21-of-29 for 268 yards and four touchdowns. Pitts caught four passes and for the second straight week, half of his receptions went for touchdowns. Six Gator receivers averaged double digits in yards per catch in the game.
Give South Carolina credit, each time Florida thought it was pulling away, the Gamecocks showed up in the rearview mirror. Kevin Harris finished with an even 100 yards rushing, and Shi Smith could be the best player in the SEC no one knows. Smith found himself running free in the Florida secondary all day and caught eight passes.
NO. 21 TENNESSEE 35, MISSOURI 12
Jarrett Guarantano did exactly what Tennessee (2-0) needed. Instead of being Dr. Jeckyl or Mr. Hyde, he turned into a Steady Eddie. He did not produce the ESPN highlight, but he did not make a big mistake. Eric Gray ran for over 100 yards behind one of the best, unpublicized offensive lines in football. If the Vols play fundamental football, they have a chance to make a little noise in the SEC East.
Missouri hung with the Vols early. After the Alabama game, not many knew what the Tigers had, but this team has heart. Mizzou did not quit in the Bama game, and they did not quit against UT. This may not be the year for Eli Drinkwitz’ first team, but this season could set a solid foundation.
NO. 2 ALABAMA 52, NO. 13 TEXAS A&M 24
Tua who? Mac Jones went 20-of-27 for 435 yards and four touchdowns against a team some considered the dark horse to win the SEC West. Sure, Jones has Jaylen Waddle and DeVonte Smith, but another weapon emerged Saturday. John Metchie III made his Tuscaloosa debut by grabbing five passes for 181 yards and two touchdowns, including a 78 yarder. Who is going to stop the Tide?
Where is Kellen Mond’s help? Mond, who seemingly has been in College Station so long he is eligible for a state pension, threw for 318 yards and three touchdowns, but he also threw a pick-six. The Aggies did have 450 total yards, but until the defense starts making plays, it will be a long road in the SEC West.
NO. 4 GEORGIA 27, NO. 7 AUBURN 6
The first game between these two took place Feb. 20, 1892 in Atlanta. Georgia made this one seems like it was not much of a rivalry. People were worried about the Bulldogs after they slept-walked to a win at Arkansas last week. Perhaps UGA was just looking ahead to this week. One thing is for certain, Georgia has found itself a quarterback. Stetson Bennett only threw for 240 yards, but he took command of the huddle and his teammates perform for him. How long until the Florida-Georgia game?
Auburn, ah, wow. Not many expected this kind of performance from the No. 7 team in the country. But it came against a Georgia defense that tallied six tackles for loss and three sacks. Hence, the Bo Nix stat line. The sophomore only threw for 177 yards, but passing production is tough to come by when the quarterback is running for his life and the rushing attack only gains 39 yards.
ARKANSAS 21, NO. 16 MISSISSIPPI STATE 14
After beating LSU in the season opener, MSU spent a lot of time reading about the win in the newspaper and watching the highlights on television. State should have been reading the game plan and watching film on Arkansas.
Bulldog QB K.J. Costello completed 43 passes for 313 yards and a touchdown. He also threw three interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown. If State only rushes for 87 yards, interceptions cannot happen.
You cannot keep a good Hog down. Virtually, no one picked Arkansas to win this one. Well, only the Razorbacks themselves. Arkansas broke a 20-game conference losing streak behind the arm of Florida transfer Felipe Franks. He was an efficient 20-of-28 for 212, a pair of touchdowns, and most importantly no interceptions. If the Hogs play smart football with a minimum number of errors, they will be dangerous.
NO. 20 LSU 41, VANDERBILT 7
Myles Brennan shook off the opening-week loss to Mississippi State by throwing for 337 yards and four touchdowns. John Emery, Jr. ran for 103 and the defense surrendered just 266 yards. Isn’t it amazing how much easier it is to win a game when the other quarterback does not throw for a mile? LSU’s first loss might have been the wake-up call the Tigers needed.
Vanderbilt is still reeling from the number of players who opted out of the season. Still, the Commodores are fighters. The biggest takeaway from Saturday was, even though the game was out of reach, Vandy’s players never quit. If the Commodores keep that attitude, there will be a win or two down the schedule. The football karma will demand it.
Steve Barnes joins The Rebel Walk staff as a senior writer and brings a trifecta of journalistic experience. As a writer, he has covered college sports for Rivals.com, Football.com and SaturdayDownSouth.com as well as served as a beat writer for various traditional newspapers.
He has been a broadcaster for arena football and several national tournament events for the National Junior College Athletic Association as well as hosting various shows on radio.
A former sports information director at Albany (Ga.) State University and an assistant at Troy and West Florida, he has helped host many NCAA conference, regional and national events, including serving five years on the media committee of the NCAA Division II World Series.
Barnes, a native of Pensacola, Fla., attended Ole Miss in 1983-84, where his first journalism teacher was David Kellum. The duo has come a long way since that time.
He will bring a proven journalistic track record, along with a knack for finding the out-of-the-ordinary story angles to The Rebel Walk.
Barnes continues to reside in Pensacola a mere ten minutes from the beach because he does have taste and a brain.