With the results below in mind, here’s a look at what we learned about each SEC team after Week 3’s college football games. It won’t be everything, but it’s some important things.
SEC Results – Week 3 – Thursday, Sept. 15 – Saturday, Sept. 17
LSU 19, Mississippi State 6 (56,924 at Starkville) (Thursday)
Florida 33, Tennessee 23 (90,744 at Gainesville)
Vanderbilt 30, Ole Miss 7 (34,579 at Nashville)
Alabama 41, North Texas 0 (101,821 at Tuscaloosa)
Arkansas 38, Troy 28 (69,861 at Fayetteville)
Louisville 24, Kentucky 17 (68,170 at Lexington)
Clemson 38, Auburn 24 (82,000 at Clemson)
Georgia 59, Coastal Carolina 0 (91,946 at Athens)
South Carolina 24, Navy 21 (78,807 at Columbia)
What Did We Learn In The SEC
South Carolina (3-0, 1-0 SEC): The Gamecocks may need a serious reality check (aka a loss) before this team decides it wants to be great. It has great individual talent but collectively has been slightly above average. Marcus Lattimore better be on your Heisman short list.
Florida (3-0, 1-0 SEC): This is a team with flaws but also a team that’s better coached than a year ago. The defensive young players have developed; the offense finds a way to get mismatches for Rainey and Demps and the special teams is as good as ever.
Vanderbilt (3-0, 1-0 SEC): The Commodores may just be for real, relative to what Vandy normally is. I admit, I’m impressed now and you should be too. The players have bought-in; they are playing with energy, confidence and intelligence. Vanderbilt isn’t suddenly a great team but it can run the football, battle you and cause the SEC big boys some stressful times this season.
Kentucky (2-1): The Wildcats finally create a little bit, and I mean a little bit, of offense and they still lose. Kentucky’s bowl appearance streak is in serious danger.
Tennessee (2-1, 0-1 SEC): Tennessee wasn’t able to overcome losing Justin Hunter, emotionally or schematically, in the loss to the Gators. The Vols relied on Justin Hunter even more than anyone imagined. They didn’t have a plan for the offense without him. We also learned that they couldn’t come up with an effective enough plan during the game. You add a bad decision to go for a two-point conversion and you have a rough day for the UT coaches.
Georgia (1-2, 0-1 SEC): At least they have enough pride and sense to take care of business against a FCS opponent and try to get better. I didn’t just learn that Isaiah Crowell is the real deal. I already knew that.
LSU (3-0, 1-0 SEC): The nation’s number one (or two, at worst, along with Alabama) defense is even more dominant than anyone gave them credit for. If Jarrett Lee continues to play this well, Jordan Jefferson, if he’s reinstated, shouldn’t get his starting quarterback spot back. Although, when Les Miles is in charge, anything odd is in play.
Auburn (2-1, 1-0 SEC): The defense truly does stink. If the offense doesn’t help the defense, Ted Roof’s bunch gets exposed. It is going to take some more recruiting classes to fix that side of the ball. Auburn will need to continue to try and outscore people. At least everyone (including Auburn) is aware of that.
Alabama (3-0): As dominant as the team has been (and was versus North Texas,) you still have things to critique them about. There are a number of things Bama needs to improve on going into SEC play. Alabama’s offensive line should be more dominant, the passing game isn’t explosive, the redzone execution needs improvement, the kickers have been ordinary and the defensive line isn’t affecting the quarterback like it wants to. The bad news for everyone else is that Nick Saban’s team is so loaded with talent, that when those players come together and play with energy and motivation, it will be really difficult to beat.
Arkansas (3-0): Arkansas showed some chinks in the armour by giving up nearly 500 yards to Troy. The Razorbacks had to hold off the Trojans in the fourth quarter. Some of the questions about this team’s defense have to be re-asked. Is the defense really better? Can they generate turnovers against top teams? Can the pass rush, other than Jake Bequette, be counted on?
Ole Miss (1-2, 0-1 SEC): The Rebels hit rock bottom under Houston Nutt. This team has even less pride in performance than any of us thought. To get man-handled by Vandy like that is embarrassing. Only monumental upsets and a bowl berth could save Houston Nutt’s job at this point.
Mississippi State (1-2, 0-2 SEC): MSU just isn’t ready for prime-time. Dan Mullen has made the Bulldogs consistently competitive. That’s not good enough to win as many games as people expected and hoped. Chris Relf’s improvement wasn’t enough to keep him from getting pulled last week. The coaching staff doesn’t have confidence in him to throw the football when needed.
Vince Ferrara has more than 10 years experience in sports broadcasting, in numerous SEC and Big 12 markets, working in sports radio, play-by-play and television. You can hear him host the “News Sentinel Sports Page” weekdays 10am-12pm ET on WNML - “The Sports Animal” in Knoxville and read more of his work at Examiner.com.