There was only one game involving two SEC teams on the Week 2 slate, and Ole Miss flexed its offensive muscles in a dominating win over Vanderbilt. Elsewhere, Alabama rolled over FAU with both Blake Sims and Jacob Coker seeing significant action; South Carolina survived a scare from East Carolina thanks to a late drive powered by its running game, and Tennessee recorded another quality win over a solid mid-major opponent.
Key Takeaways from the SEC in Week 2
Ole Miss might not have a punter
This is said in jest, of course, but Ole Miss snapped the ball 88 times Saturday afternoon in Nashville, and punter Will Gleeson never trotted on to the field of play. The Rebels ran their up-tempo, spread attack to near perfection, rolling up 547 total yards en route to a 41–3 win over Vanderbilt. Ole Miss converted 10-of-15 on third down, had nine plays that went for 20 yards or more and converted on all six trips to the red zone (four TDs, two field goals). Bo Wallace was very sharp, completing 23-of-30 passes for 320 yards with one touchdowns and, most important, no interceptions. Vanderbilt did not offer much resistance, but the Ole Miss offense has a ton of weapons and will be very difficult to stop in 2014.
Listen to the Week 2 recap podcast:
Alabama’s QB competition is ongoing
Jacob Coker was solid in his first extended appearance at quarterback for Alabama, completing 15-of-24 attempts for 202 yards and one touchdown. Blake Sims, however, was better. The senior completed 11-of-13 passes for 214 and two scores. Sims doesn’t give Alabama as much of a threat in the deep passing game, but the Tide’s offense has been extremely efficient under his direction. Coker missed some opportunities down the field and looked a bit tentative at times, but we can’t forget that he has not taken many snaps at the collegiate level. Sims is clearly good enough (thanks in part to an elite supporting cast) to guide Alabama to an SEC title, but you get the feeling that the Tide will need Coker — and his down-the-field ability — to play a key role at some point. Stay tuned.
South Carolina needs to run the ball to win
The Gamecocks were forced to abandon the running game in the Week 1 loss to Texas A&M, but this team will have to lean on its talented group of tailbacks and outstanding offensive line to remain relevant in the SEC in 2014. Mike Davis, limited to 15 yards on six attempts in the opener, had 101 yard on 18 carries and two scores in Saturday’s 33–23 win over East Carolina. Brandon Wilds, who has been a valuable reserve and spot starter during his two-plus years in Columbia, added 49 yards on 14 carries. South Carolina put the game away in the fourth quarter with a clock-killing drive that featured nine straight rushing attempts during one stretch. “Everybody in the stadium knew where the ball was going, and we still had success with it,” quarterback Dylan Thompson said.
Vanderbilt takes a step back on offense
It didn’t seem possible, but Vanderbilt regressed on offense from Week 1 (a 37–7 loss to Temple) to Week 2 (a 41–3 loss to Ole Miss). On Saturday afternoon, the Commodores gained only 167 yards on 50 offensive plays and failed to score an offensive touchdown for the second straight game. Stephen Rivers, making his first start, threw for 60 yards on 25 attempts (averaging a brutal 2.4 yards per attempt) and completed only two passes to a wide receiver. Tailback Ralph Webb ran well for the second straight game — the redshirt freshman has 165 yards on 32 carries — but nothing else has gone well for the Vanderbilt offense in 2014.
Tennessee is on schedule
It’s a bit early to make reservations to the SEC title game in Atlanta, but Tennessee continues to show signs that it’s on the right path. Butch Jones’ young team improved to 2–0 with a 34–19 win over Arkansas State, the second straight solid mid-major opponent the Vols have soundly defeated. This wasn’t as dominant as the opener against Utah State, but the game was never really in doubt in the second half. This team is far from perfect — the running game has been a bit of a disappointment and the offensive line will continue to be an issue — but there is so much more talent and speed across the roster. Justin Worley might not be a perfect fit for what this staff wants from the quarterback position, but the senior has seized the job and emerged as the leader of the offense.
SEC Post-Week 2 Power Rankings
W, FAU, 41-0
at South Carolina
W, SJSU 59-13
W, Lamar 73-3
W, Vanderbilt 41-3
W, Sam Houston, 56-0
W, ECU, 33-23
W, E. Mich., 65-0
W, Toledo 49-24
W, UAB, 47-24
at S. Alabama
W, Ark. St., 34-19
W, Nicholls St., 73-7
at Texas Tech
W, Ohio, 20-3
L, Ole Miss, 41-3