After a strong opening weekend, the SEC schedule looks pretty thin this Saturday. Still there are some burning questions we hope to get answered before the day is over.
1) Steve Spurrier, the Head Ball Coach, is not happy. But can he do anything about it before Georgia arrives on Sept. 13? Texas A&M outplayed, outcoached, and outhustled South Carolina in a 52-28 loss last week. It was embarrassing for a team that was ranked in the preseason Top 10 and because the Gamecocks laid an egg at home with most of the country watching. So Spurrier tightened things up at practice this week. Things got physical and the competition for some jobs was re-opened. “It seems we’ve been lackadaisical,” Spurrier conceded, knowing full well that is a function of coaching. Georgia comes to Williams-Brice Stadium next week in a crucial game but before that the Gamecocks have to play East Carolina and their up-tempo quarterback Shane Carden, who has completed 70 percent of his passes over his career.
2) Will Auburn come out flat against San Jose State? The Tigers were impressive in their opener, dominating Arkansas in the second half to win 45-21. And they will be a four-touchdown favorite over the Spartans (1-0), who beat North Dakota (42-10) in their opener. But with a huge non-conference game coming up at Kansas State on Sept. 18, does Auburn take care of business against an inferior team or do the Tigers come out uninspired and play sloppy? Remember that the College Football Playoff selection committee is watching.
3) I have the same question about Tennessee. With a trip to Oklahoma set for next week, do the Vols look past Arkansas State? Tennessee was efficient and impressive in beating Utah State (38-7) Sunday night. The Vols are so young they can’t afford to look past anyone, particularly a team that is favored to win another Sun Belt Conference title. Tennessee is going to win the game and is probably going to win it by double digits. But after a short week and with No. 4 Oklahoma waiting in the wings, do the Vols take a step back? And it doesn’t help that its already-young offensive line lost starting left tackle Jacob Gilliam to a season-ending injury.
4) Can Bo Wallace take care of the football? There are a lot of high hopes at Ole Miss but this much we learned from the Rebels’ 35-13 win over Boise State in Atlanta: Ole Miss can’t get where they hope to go — which is to seriously contend for the SEC West championship — unless its quarterback protects the ball better. In 2013 Wallace cut his interceptions to 10 after throwing 17 the season before. Against Boise State he lapsed into his old habits, throwing three picks in the first half and making some reads that defied explanation. Wallace was much better in the second half but the mistakes make everybody who pulls for the Rebels nervous. Wallace should play better at Vanderbilt, which looks to be in a world of hurt after getting boat-raced by Temple (37-7).
5) Does Leonard Fournette break out against Sam Houston State? Fournette was compared to Herschel Walker, Bo Jackson and Adrian Peterson when he signed at LSU last February. The New Orleans native only had 18 yards rushing on eight carries in the 28-24 comeback win over Wisconsin in Houston. Les Miles, who created some of this hype by comparing the potential star quality of Fournette to that of Michael Jordan, insisted this week that the freshman gave LSU “exactly what we needed.” The fact is that LSU has some veteran backs in Kenny Hilliard (who had 110 yards rushing and scored the winning touchdown) and Terrence Magee and it makes no sense to ask too much of a freshman in such a huge opening game. Let’s see what happens against Sam Houston State.