Arkansas braces for next challenge
Notebook: Texas A&M is SEC-ready; Is Tennessee for real?
Apparently Arkansas head coach John L. Smith can predict the future, proclaiming after the Razorbacks' Week 1 victory that his team had a lot to work on.
A stunning upset at the hands of Louisiana-Monroe and quarterback Kolton Browning left Smith and the Hogs with a dismal bus ride back to Fayetteville. ULM beat No. 8 Arkansas 34-31 in overtime to send the Razorbacks away with a lot of unanswered questions going into the tough position of having to face No.1 Alabama on Saturday.
With the loss, Arkansas is no longer a ranked team as it took a historic plunge out of the AP top 25, the second-largest slide in poll history.
This week’s practice sessions will likely be defensive oriented as the Razorback defense gave up 550 yards that ended with a 16-yard sprint to the end zone to finish the game by Browning.
“He did a great job. He made play, after play, after play,” Smith said of Browning. "That includes one at the end to win. We couldn’t tackle him, couldn’t stop him. He played a great game.”
The ULM offensive attack wasn’t the only thing that plagued the Razorbacks on Saturday night. Injury woes tormented them all night long. Most notably, senior starting QB Tyler Wilson. Wilson left the game with what was described as an “above the shoulders injury” in the first half and did not return to the Arkansas sideline.
“I have to give ULM a lot of credit,” Smith said. “The coaches did a good job, the players played hard. They out played us and they out coached us. We have to do a better job. We have to pull together.”
• Junior QB AJ McCarron will look to keep the Tide rolling when they travel to play the injury plagued Arkansas. McCarron threw for a career-high four touchdown passes on Saturday. Head coach Nick Saban will look for better offensive production, despite McCarron’s numbers and the fact they beat Western Kentucky 35-0.
“We need to do a better job in the passing game,” Saban said. “We had a couple drops today. Not perfect passes but passes that should be caught.”
Next Game: at Arkansas Sept. 15
Auburn (0-2, 0-1 SEC)
• Auburn’s struggles continued Saturday as it lost to Mississippi State to fall to 0-2 on the season. It may be a long year for coach Gene Chizik’s Tigers as they only accumulated 216 total yards and scored 3 points on offense. Auburn is going to have to figure something out quickly as Louisiana-Monroe is coming into town after defeating Arkansas.
“We are going to take this day by day and our aim is to improve every day,” Chizik said. "There weren’t a lot of positives. We got ourselves in a hole and turned the ball over.“
Next Game: vs. Louisiana-Monroe Sept. 15
Florida (2-0, 1-0 SEC)
• Sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel and the Gators ruined Texas A&M’s opener and SEC debut with a 20-17 victory on Saturday. The Gators came from behind in Driskel’s first career start.
• No. 18 Florida finally showed up in the fourth quarter after getting outscored 72-22 in the fourth quarter of eight SEC games last season.
Next Game: at Tennessee Sept. 15
Georgia (2-0, 1-0 SEC)
• The Bulldogs' road struggles were not apparent last weekend as they walked into Columbia, Mo., and beat Missouri 41-20. Georgia outscored Mizzou 32-10 in the second half including putting up 17 points and giving up zero in the fourth quarter.
Next Game: vs. Florida Atlantic Sept. 15
• Kentucky notched its first victory of the season Saturday as it beat up on visiting Kent State. Sophomore QB Maxwell Smith threw for a career-high 354 yards and four touchdowns. A young Kentucky team will continue to make strides as it plays host to in-state rival Western Kentucky this week.
• Junior running back Raymond Sanders added a career-high 115 yards on the ground to help UK win its seventh consecutive home opener.
Next Game: vs. Western Kentucky Sept. 15
• No. 3 LSU proved it belonged in the conversation with SEC West rival Alabama as it stomped a good Washington team which has made consecutive bowl appearances. The Tigers looked dominant all game, including on defense where there are no signs of missing Heisman finalist Tyrann Mathieu. The Tiger defense gave up 3 points as it suffocated the Huskies.
• LSU improved to 28-0 in non-conference games under head coach Les Miles.
Next Game: vs. Idaho Sept. 15
• Ole Miss improved to 2-0 led by sophomore QB Bo Wallace and junior RB Jeff Scott. Head coach Hugh Freeze admitted there is still room for improvement but was overall happy with his team’s performance.
“The one thing that never was questioned was how hard they played for this university, and everyone should recognize that, so I'm proud of the guys," Freeze said following the game. "We should have had a lot more points, but at the same time, these are building blocks for these young kids.”
• Wallace threw for 174 yards and three touchdowns while Scott added 113 yard on the ground.
Next Game: vs. Texas Sept. 15
Mississippi State (2-0, 1-0 SEC)
• For the first time in the four-year Dan Mullen era, Mississippi State defeated a SEC west opponent not named Ole Miss. The Bulldogs improved to 2-0 after the 28-10 victory against Auburn.
• Junior QB Tyler Russell continued his strong play, completing 20-29 passes for 222 yards and three touchdowns. Mississippi State looks to remain undefeated as it travels to Troy and hosts South Alabama in the next two weeks.
Next Game: at Troy Sept. 15
Missouri (1-1, 0-1 SEC)
• Missouri’s much-anticipated home opener was spoiled as Georgia welcomed the Tigers to SEC football. Mizzou hung with the Bulldogs for the first half until two turnovers deep in its own territory haunted it.
Head coach Gary Pinkel said, “We had a turnover on the one-yard line and a turnover at the three-yard line. At that point, it is a seven-point game and you just can't do that.”
Next Game: vs. Arizona State Sept. 15
South Carolina (2-0, 1-0 SEC)
• It didn’t matter that starting QB Connor Shaw was unable to compete for the eighth-ranked Gamecocks as sophomore Dylan Thompson filled in well. Thompson threw for 330 yards and three touchdowns in the 48-10 South Carolina win against East Carolina. Despite Thompson’s big day, head coach Steve Spurrier made sure there was no controversy.
“If Connor is 100 percent, he's our guy," Spurrier said. "Now we know if something happens to Connor, Dylan can go in there."
Next Game: vs. UAB Sept. 15
• The 22nd ranked Vols’ snuck into the AP rankings for the first time this season behind impressive QB play from junior Tyler Bray. Bray completed 18 of 20 passes for 310 yards and four touchdowns. The explosive Tennesee offense is averaging 541 yards per game in their first two contests heading into a stern test this weekend in Knoxville.
Next Game: vs. Florida Sept. 15
Texas A&M (0-1, 0-1 SEC)
• Although Florida came in and beat the Aggies, Texas A&M proved it is SEC ready. Freshman QB Johnny Manziel led the way by throwing for 173 yards, rushing for 60 more with a touchdown and more importantly, didn’t turn the ball over.
Next Game: at SMU Sept. 15
Vanderbilt (0-2, 0-1 SEC)
• Vanderbilt let one get away Saturday despite looking dominant at times, outgaining Northwestern in total yards 232-85 during the first half. Vandy still continues to search for that extra boost that will put them over the edge, having been on the wrong side of two close games to begin the year.
Next Game: vs. Presbyterian Sept. 15