One month into the season and for most it has been four-five games into a 12 game schedule. With conference play just beginning for most, there’s still a ton to be determined as we head towards the coming months but with the smaller sample size that CFB offers in contrast to the NFL, it’s not too early to take a look at a few things. Whether it was non-conference games, early league games or individual performances, we can begin the process of taking a look at the landscape of college football one month into the season.
The SEC again is in the middle of a debate over whether they’re elite or top heavy. With four teams in the top ten and another right outside it, some will say they’re the best again. On the flip side you have a number of teams who have turned out to be mediocre-bad football teams that will have others yelling their top heavy. Through a month this league has seen the rise and fall of a couple teams and is beginning to take shape as we move into October. This weekend alone will have two monster SEC games that will shape conference races and the national title picture. From Verne and Gary to the female student bodies, the SEC will always have my heart.
Lets check out their first month:
What We’ve Learned:
Arkansas Is Looking Forward to a New Coach
It’s been quite the year for Arkansas so far and not in a good way. The Hogs stumbled to a 1-3 start with endless reasons for it and came out against Texas A&M looking like a team who has packed it in for 2012. Kind of a kick in the balls to their fans and their biggest official online “non-fan but still a fan”, me. Still from the growing bankruptcy issues to the loss of his brother and now a team who has rolled over on him, it’s tough times for John L. Smith and I personally feel bad for the guy. Still, a team that was supposed to be the main challenger to LSU and Alabama in the western division of the SEC is looking like a long shot for a bowl game at this point. Tyler Wilson spent the press conference after the Alabama game questioning the heart of some of his teammates and it appears what he spoke was spot on. The defense can’t stop anyone. The offensive line can’t block and Knile Davis looks like a fraction of the player he was two years ago for the Hogs since returning from his ankle injury. It’s been tough to watch for most but the fallout from Bobby Petrino appears to be a year-long adjustment.
There’s a New SEC QB We’ll Become Infatuated With or Sick Of
Call him Johnny. Johnny Manziel. The Texas A&M Aggies freshman QB has blown up in recent weeks with some monster on-field performances in Kevin Sumlin’s offense. Add in the fact he saves kittens on his free time and the kid is on the path to becoming the next media favorite in the SEC. The Aggies QB set school records in his first two starts and while the brunt of their SEC schedule still sits in front of them, Texas A&M looks like at the very least they have an offense that will bring a challenge to the coaches in the SEC to defend. Their adjustment has gone a lot smoother than Missouri’s had and with Ole Miss up next the Aggies should be looking at a 4-1 start in their SEC inaugural season. Manziel has yet to go up against the toughest teams he’ll face in the SEC and if there’s one thing that will keep him from becoming a media darling it’s losing. Still, after one month in the SEC, Manziel is showing the SEC may have to prepare for another celebrity.
Maybe Florida is Truly Ready to Compete Under Muschamp
The Gators looked rather mediocre all of 2011 so when they started to get some love this preseason I began to scratch my head. Even Phil Steele went out and predicted them to win the SEC East this season which I couldn’t believe my eyes. Yet the defense has been tremendous as their second half adjustments have locked down both Tennessee and Texas A&M in their first two SEC games. After the opener against Bowling Green where they looked less than stellar I figured they were lined up for a 7-win season as I projected in August but Muschamp has them playing well. The run game has more than made up for the lack of a passing game and they get the bulk of their tough games at home from here on out. Things are setting up nicely for the Gators but they still have the four toughest games on their schedule in front of them. Nonetheless, after September, it’s fair to call them a major contender in the SEC East.
What We Confirmed:
Tennessee’s Pass Game Will Define Their Season
The Vols limped to a 5-7 season a year ago but with Tyler Bray and Justin Hunter hurt for a good portion of it, most figured they’d have a better season in 2012 and at worst be a bowl team. In the opening weekend of the season they showed their offensive firepower in a victory over NC State and it has been a very strong unit all year as the 14th ranked passing attack in the country. Despite their firepower the trigger man behind it may be the biggest weakness as he is a strength. Tyler Bray for all the talent he possesses in his right arm is a decision-making nightmare, often making throws that leave you wondering what he possibly saw or expected to happen as a result. His mistakes against Georgia at times were as costly as the plays they made that kept them in the game. We knew Tennessee had potential and despite many doubts that followed Derek Dooley, many knew that Bray could be erratic as well. As we’ve seen in September, as the expression goes “sometimes you take the good with the bad.”
LSU Drank A Bunch of Nyquil This Offseason
We’re 5 games into the season and there’s no telling if LSU was a preseason darling that is capable of winning the national championship or a team who is a middle tier SEC team that will exposed once they play the upper echelon of SEC teams. They really haven’t played any team that would qualify as a great win unless you’re a big Washington believer and they’ve looked less than stellar in a number of other games. We were sold all offseason on how Zach Mettenberger was going to be a big upgrade at the QB position yet through five games he’s looked very…dare I say…Jefferson-like. The Tigers offense hasn’t shown the ability to throw the ball consistently and as we learned last year, against the likes of Alabama, it’s risky only bringing a running game to battle. The next 30 days or so will tell us a lot about where this LSU team stands and whether or not their preseason ranking was warranted. I didn’t think the Honey Badger loss was as dramatic as some others and while the defense is still elite, perhaps that swagger is what they miss most. Because right now, they look half asleep and don’t look like a team who is going toe to toe with Alabama.
What We Still Want to Know:
Who Is #2 to Alabama?
LSU? South Carolina? Georgia? Florida? MISSISSIPPI STATE? We’re a month into the season and none of the teams outside Alabama seem to have separated themselves from the pack as the team to challenge Alabama. This weekend however we get to see which two take the first step towards being just that. Georgia goes to Columbia to face South Carolina while LSU goes to the Swamp. Arkansas fell way off from preseason expectations and while Mississippi State is unbeaten and has looked good, I’m just not ready to call them a legitimate contender in the SEC just yet. LSU at home naturally seems like the easiest call for potential loss but as we said just above, the Tigers haven’t shown anything yet to suggest they can give Alabama a loss. The East division may have to be the team that keeps Alabama from running the table and it’s anyone’s guess who the team best equipped out of those three is to take them down. All we know is coming off a national championship and a defense that lost a lot of it’s leadership and talent, Nick Saban’s bunch looks primed to give anyone a battle who tries and takes it from them.
How Far Can Todd Gurley Take It?
When Isaiah Crowell left the Georgia program there wasn’t the panic you would expect from a fanbase or team because Georgia had already pulled in two of the top RB prospects in the country. Add in the fact Aaron Murray was back and it wasn’t hard to see why Georgia felt they could continue their success on offense without Crowell. However you did your homework if you thought Todd Gurley could ever turn into what he’s been in the first month for Mark Richt and the Georgia offense. Gurley has not only been one of the most productive freshman in the country but one of the best players in the country to date. He is averaging over 100 yards per game and has 10 TDs already on the season. He’s already started the talks with bloggers and such of whether he can be Herschel Walker good. We’ll hold off on those comparisons here, but what we won’t hold off on saying is Mark Richt got himself a gem with this freshman RB and he’ll keep many a defensive coordinators up at night until he leaves the Bulldogs.