So what did we learn on Week 2 of the SEC season?
1—I have no idea where Tennessee goes from here:
The only good news to report is that the 0-2 Vols have nowhere to go but up and will do that on Saturday at home against Chattanooga. At least I think they will.
Tennessee, which felt that a bowl game was a reasonable goal for this season, has somehow found a way to lose to Georgia State (38-30), a team picked to finish last in its division in the Sun Belt, and BYU, which completed a 64-yard pass in the closing seconds and kicked a field goal to send the game into overtime, where Tennessee lost 29-26.
Here is why it was such a gut punch for the Vols. The crowd showed up at Neyland Stadium and supported their team. The team played much harder and had a better game plan than the week before against Georgia State. But the Vols let BYU hang around and got burned by a coverage mistake on a big play.
After Chattanooga Tennessee goes on a stretch that includes Florida (road), Georgia, Mississippi State, Alabama (road), South Carolina, UAB, and Kentucky (road).
So what happens now?
My guess is not lot. If you’re AD Phillip Fulmer you really can’t come out and talk about it on week three. Because then every week become a referendum on what you said the previous weeks.
If you’re Jeremy Pruitt all you can do is climb into the bunker with your staff and coach your team. There are no magic tricks.
But think about this from John Adams, the veteran columnist from the Knoxville News-Sentinel.
Pruitt is 5-9 after his first 14 games at Tennessee. Johnny Majors (1977-92) was 4-9-1 in his first 14 games at his alma mater. He went on to coach 16 years and win 116 games and three SEC championships for Tennessee.
But the world was a more patient place then.
2—Here is the story that tells you everything you need to know about LSU’s new offense:
In a conversation on Friday with ESPN analyst Greg McElroy, I wondered if LSU would pull back on its new wide-open offense if the Tigers got into the late stages of a tough game.
Well, we got our answer, according to a story in the Baton Rouge Morning Advocate.
LSU held a 37-31 lead and had the ball on its 25-yard line with 3:59 left. Head coach Ed Orgeron asked offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger if he wanted to run the ball and eat up some clock in the four-minute offense.
According to Orgeron, Ensminger said: “No, we’re going to pass the ball. We’re gonna go down there and score.”
Moments later Burrow threw a 61-yard touchdown pass to Jefferson. That score plus a two-point conversion made it 45-31 with 2:27 left. That
LSU Never----never—would have done that I the past. Now this team looks playoff good and its quarterback--Joe Burrow--is a damned baller. He completed 31 of 39 passes for 471 yards and four touchdowns. He would not let his team lose.
3—The tone and tenor of the Alabama-South Carolina game sure has changed:
The SEC on CBS begins its season on Saturday as Alabama goes to South Carolina. The top story line for the game was that it was Alabama’s first trip to Williams-Brice Stadium since 2010, when Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks upset the No. 1 Crimson Tide. It was supposed to be a matchup of veteran quarterbacks Jake Bentley of South Carolina and Tua Tagovailoa and a rocking atmosphere.
Instead, you’ll have No. 2 Alabama taking on a South Carolina team that lost its first game to North Carolina and then lost Bentley to an injury. So a true freshman, Ryan Helinski, will get his first career SEC start against Nick Saban and the powerful Crimson Tide. Yikes!
Alabama will be at least a 21-point favorite.
4—I’ll bet Gunnar Hoak is kicking himself right now: Hoak had three years invested into the system at Kentucky when he decided to leave and enter the transfer portal last spring. Terry Wilson, the starting quarterback for Kentucky’s 10-3 season in 2018, held on to the job as expected.
Hoak, from Dublin, Ohio, went to Ohio State where he was destined to be a backup to Georgia transfer Justin Fields. But in two blowout wins for Ohio State Hoak has yet to throw a pass.
If Hoak had remained at Kentucky there is a pretty good chance he’d be the starting quarterback when the Wildcats host Florida (7 p.m., ESPN) on Saturday. That’s because Wilson injured his knee Saturday against Eastern Michigan and appears out for the season
Instead the Wildcats will go with graduate transfer Sawyer Smith, who threw for 1,669 yards and 14 touchdowns last season at Troy.
Stoops and Gran said after last Saturday’s game that they have confidence in Smith, who has two years of eligibility remaining.
“We’re going to play to win no matter who’s playing (quarterback),” Stoops told reporters after the game. “Everybody better get that straight right now.”
5—Arkansas may be looking at another 0-8 finish in the SEC:
When Chad Morris took the job at Arkansas he made it clear that rebuilding the program was going to take time and patience from the Razorbacks fans.
In 2017, the season before Morris came, the Hogs went 1-7 in the SEC, the only win coming against Ole Miss (38-17).
Last season under Morris they were 0-8. After Saturday’s 31-17 loss to Ole Miss, Arkansas may be looking at another 0-8.
According to Wally Hall of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, it has now been 680 days since the Razorbacks have won an SEC game. Ouch!